The Loneliness Of Sexual Frustration: Experts Offer 9 Ways To Reconnect
Sexual frustration can arise when a person’s needs, desires, or expectations aren’t being met and it can impact feelings of loneliness whether you’re single or in a relationship with someone.
- Sexual frustration is the psychological and emotional state of being distressed over or dissatisfied with unmet sexual needs, desires, or expectations.
- Sexual frustration can arise from the inability to find a partner, experiencing constant rejection from potential dates, or frequent rejection when initiating sex within a long-term relationship (such as a sexless marriage).
- Symptoms of feeling sexually frustrated can include irritability, emotional sensitivity, mood swings, stress and anxiety, difficulty sleeping, preoccupation with sexual desires, depression, increased aggression, changes in sexual desire, loss of self-esteem, restlessness, avoidance of sexual intimacy, and an overall sense of dissatisfaction.
- Although the best method(s) to relieve sexual frustration will vary based on individual circumstances, communication with your partner, self-exploration (masturbation), stress management, maintaining good physical health, seeking medication (if warranted), and counseling or therapy (alone or with your partner) may help.
We spoke with experts to learn more about the causes and symptoms of sexual frustration, how they affect feelings of loneliness, and what to do about it.
What Is Sexual Frustration And How Does It Relate To Loneliness?
Sexual frustration refers to the emotional and psychological state of being dissatisfied or distressed due to unmet sexual needs, desires, or expectations.
“It’s defined as a combination of irritation, sadness, and anger due to sexual dissatisfaction that usually occurs after a long period of time,” sex and relationship coach, Dr. Tara, who also hosts the weekly podcast, Luvbites, told us.
She explained that sexual frustration can be caused by the inability to find a sexual partner, “constant rejection from potential dates,” and frequent rejection when initiating sex in a long-term relationship.
A lonely single person “may feel they have been isolated for a long time and don’t have the courage or don’t feel like they have the social skills to talk to other people,” which makes it difficult to find dates or sexual partners, she explained.
“Some people may be able to work up the courage to talk to potential dates,” she said, noting that they may find themselves frequently rejected due to their communication style or because they are not perceived as attractive.
“This could impact self-esteem greatly which leaves people feeling unworthy and lonely,” she added.
For those long-term relationships without intimacy, “The lack of sex and ability to sexually connect can influence partners to feel resentful, anxious, and potentially depressed,” she said.
Sexual frustration can manifest in various ways and may result from a variety of factors, including:
- Lack of sexual activity: When a person’s sexual desires and needs are not being met due to a lack of sexual activity (including being single), it can lead to sexual frustration and loneliness.
- Unfulfilling sexual experiences: Even if someone is engaging in sexual activity regularly (with or without a partner), if it is unsatisfying or unfulfilling, a person can feel sexually frustrated because their needs are not being met completely.
- Inhibition or difficulty with sexual expression: Some individuals may find it challenging to express their sexuality (including if queer, gay, lesbian, or transgender and non-binary) due to personal inhibitions, societal expectations, or psychological factors, leading to frustration.
- Relationship issues: Relationship problems, such as lack of intimacy, communication issues, a sexless marriage, or partner infidelity, can contribute to feelings of sexual frustration.
- Physical or psychological factors: Physical health issues (including disabilities), hormonal imbalances, or psychological conditions like anxiety, depression, or past trauma can affect one’s sexual satisfaction.
- Mismatched libidos: When partners in a relationship have significantly different levels of sexual desire — which can be perfectly normal at various stages throughout life — it can lead to frustration for the partner with the higher or lower libido.
Sexual frustration can have negative effects on a person’s overall well-being, impacting their mental and emotional health.
We spoke with sexologist Anka Grzywacz, who said, “Sexual frustration is what’s often hiding behind low sex drive.”
“People come to me, explaining that they are tired and stressed — and that may be true,” she said.
“But the real reason is that sex was never that good and now, after years of tolerating mediocre sexual experiences, they subconsciously want out and start avoiding intimacy altogether,” she explained.
“And what’s even more detrimental to the couple is the slow death of all intimacy,” she said, adding:
“In order not to provoke uncomfortable and unwanted sexual situations, couples start avoiding physical touch altogether. They don’t kiss, hug, or hold hands. And that physical distance slowly creates an emotional gap that may be hard to fill.”
Symptoms Of Sexual Frustration
Symptoms of sexual frustration can manifest in many physical, emotional, and behavioral ways; although they may vary from person to person, common signs include:
- Irritability, emotional sensitivity, and mood swings
- Increased stress and anxiety
- Difficulty sleeping, such as insomnia, restless sleep, or other disturbances
- Lack of concentration due to preoccupation with sexual desires
- Increase in aggression and/or confrontational behavior
- Loss of self-esteem or self-worth
- Physical symptoms, such as tension, headaches, and muscle pain
- Avoidance of intimacy out of fear of not meeting a partner’s expectations — or their own
- Changes in sexual desire
- An overall sense of dissatisfaction
It’s important to note that these symptoms can be influenced by various factors, and not everyone who is feeling frustrated sexually will exhibit all of them.
Ms. Laura Rose Halliday of SchoolofSquirt.com said that sexual frustration manifests differently in established relationships compared to new ones.
“In established relationships, sexual frustration may manifest as passive-aggressive anger,” she explained.
“The slighted partner may feel their partner should know what they want, and so they don’t even bother to communicate their needs.”
“In new relationships, sexual frustration may manifest as domination. The sexually frustrated partner may feel like they need to ‘train’ their new partner to know what they like,” she said.
“Whether in established or new relationships, lack of communication is the overarching theme,” she added.
Expert Advice On How To Deal With Sexual Frustration
If you’re feeling sexually frustrated, addressing it often involves open and honest communication with your partner, seeking professional guidance if necessary, and exploring ways to improve your satisfaction and overall well-being.
We spoke with experts who offered several strategies that can help:
- Communicate with your partner
- Try counseling or therapy (individual and/or couples counseling)
- Practice self-exploration
- Consider sexual experimentation
- Manage your stress
- Take care of your physical health
- Seek medical help if necessary
- Explore sensate focus exercises
- Give it time and patience
Open The Lines Of Communication
Honest and open communication with your partner(s) is crucial to not just fulfilling sex, but a stronger relationship.
Discuss your desires, concerns, and expectations in a safe and non-judgmental environment.
Your partner may not even be aware that you’re feeling frustrated sexually, and communication can lead to potential solutions and a better understanding of one another.
Laura Rose Halliday, the sexpert we spoke with earlier, said that “open communication is absolutely essential to feeling happy and sexually fulfilled in your relationships.”
“It’s necessary to first understand what each partner views as sexually fulfilling,” she said. “Ask questions and be open to listening — and hearing — your partner’s answers.”
“You must also be willing to be completely open and vulnerable with your partner,” she explained, adding:
“Once you have an idea of what both of you see as sexually fulfilling, you and your partner can brainstorm solutions for meeting each other’s needs. This is especially important if your needs are on opposite ends of the spectrum. In some cases, that may mean discussing the possibility of opening the relationship.”
“However, this should never be given as an ultimatum,” she notes, with an example given as “We need to open this relationship or I’ll break up with you.”
Try Counseling Or Therapy
Consider seeking the help of a therapist or counselor, especially if the source of your sexual frustration is related to past trauma, relationship issues, or psychological factors.
A therapist can provide guidance and support in addressing these issues — and more.
“Sexual frustration is the key motivator that gets people to seek professional help,” Anka Grzywacz, the sexologist we spoke with earlier, explained.
“And it has many faces. What I see [in my practice] is the frustration that comes from not getting what you want in bed but at the same time being too ashamed or afraid to address this openly with your partner,” she said. adding:
“What’s interesting to me is that many people seem to sacrifice sexual pleasure on the altar of the relationship. They hesitate to share their frustrations with their partner, worried this might ruin the otherwise good life they have together.
So, what I keep hearing is them trying to convince themselves that sex is not so important. And the result is opposite to what they expected to happen — the growing sexual frustration begins to impact other areas of the couple’s life.
And at some point that good relationship is not so good anymore.”
If the sexual frustration is impacting a relationship, consider couples therapy.
A therapist can help both partners address their issues and improve intimacy — together.
When it comes to sexual pleasure, it’s important to understand your own body and what brings satisfaction.
Masturbation can be a healthy way to explore your own desires and relieve sexual tension.
Dr. Tara, the sex and relationship coach we spoke with earlier, said that “mindful masturbation” is a healthy way to deal with sexual frustration, but if partnered, mutual masturbation is worth trying.
Consider Experimentation With Your Partner
In a consensual and safe manner, communicate your needs with your partner and consider trying new sexual experiences together.
Exploring different fantasies or activities can help improve satisfaction and reduce sexual frustration at the same time.
The best place to have this type of conversation, however, is somewhere outside of the bedroom, at a time and place where sex is not on the table at all.
Not only does this remove the pressure to “perform” or consent to something in the heat of the moment, but it gives both partners an opportunity to discuss the topic much more objectively.
Manage Your Stress
Practice stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, exercise, or deep breathing to help manage the anxiety and tension associated with sexual frustration and the loneliness it can cause.
As Roots Of Loneliness writer, Zöe Tanner, explained, “One of the things that helped me to work through my sexual loneliness was going to a daily yoga class.”
“Taking an hour each day just to move my body and focus on my breath made a world of difference in the state of my mental and physical health,” she noted.
Don’t Neglect Your Physical Health
Physical health can impact sexual well-being.
Ensure that you are maintaining a healthy lifestyle through regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep.
Seek Medical Help If Necessary
If your sexual frustration is related to erectile dysfunction or other medical conditions, consult a healthcare professional for guidance and potential treatment solutions.
Don’t let stigma stop you from seeking help if you need it — research has found that men in their 40s have about a 40% chance of developing some form of erectile dysfunction (increasing 10% with each decade that passes).
It’s far more common than you may realize.
Likewise, medical conditions that can lower sex drive include hypothyroidism, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, to name a few.
Regardless of the condition, the right treatment can make all the difference in your sex life — but that starts with consulting your doctor.
Explore Sensate Focus Exercises
Sensate focus is a therapeutic technique used to increase intimacy and sexual satisfaction between partners by focusing on sensory experiences rather than performance.
It can be particularly helpful in addressing sexual frustration within a relationship, but can also reduce performance anxiety and improve communication.
With sensate focus, mindful touching is key — and the goal is not arousal or orgasm, at least in the beginning.
Steps begin with non-genital touching, eventually progressing to “sensual intercourse” — slow and mindful intimacy that focuses on the awareness of physical sensations and touch.
Give It Time And Grant Yourself Patience
Overcoming sexual frustration may take time, especially if it is related to relationship issues or psychological factors.
Be patient with yourself and your partner while working through your challenges together.
There is no “time limit” — nor should you set one for yourselves.
Dr. Tara advised practicing “sexual meditation to gain self-love and sexual self-confidence.”
If you’re single, “Get out more and meet people. Join a social club near you. Sharpen your social skills,” she said.
When dating (or trying to), it’s important to remember that rejection is a part of the process — not every shot we take with someone is going to be met with success.
(But if we never try, we’ll miss all of them, so don’t give up.)
Overcoming sexual frustration is a personal and often complex journey.
It may involve a combination of strategies and, depending on your personal circumstances, could require ongoing effort and patience.
But it isn’t an impossible mountain to climb, even if it feels that way right now.