Q&A: Sex Feels Robotic, What Can I Do?

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QUESTION: I love my girlfriend dearly, but it seems that she doesn't enjoy sex with me too much. When we do it, it feels a little 'robotic'. Any advice?

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Often when women and men describe sex as “robotic”, what they are really noticing is a lack of connection with their partner. When two people aren’t connecting emotionally during sex, then all that’s left are the physical aspects to sex, which can feel like they’re “going through the motions”.

This can happen for a variety of reasons and, since it is important to you to improve the sexual aspects of your relationship with your girlfriend, it may be worth talking to her about in a way that doesn’t come across as judgmental or critical.

Not “Robotic”

Try not to describe the sex as “robotic” when you talk to her, as she may be trying very hard to please you and may feel sensitive to criticism. Instead, try sharing your hopes for your sex life together and what you’d like to see more of, such as more connection, relaxation, and time spent giving each other pleasure – whether or not you live up to any standard of what sex should be like.

Some people find it difficult to relax, let go and get into sex, and this can lead to sex that feels less connecting. Perhaps your girlfriend has had second thoughts about her decision to have sex with you, or wonders in some ways if she is ready to have sex, or if she wants to have the types of sex that you two are having.

Other Worries And Anxiety

Other concerns can get in the way, too. For example, is it possible that she is worried or anxious about pregnancy or infection? What types of conversations have you two had around these issues?

Other times people find it difficult to let go and connect with their partner, sexually, because they aren’t quite sure what to do. They may have read books or magazine articles about sex, and may be thinking in their heads about the things they are “supposed” to do rather than touching their partner in ways that feel pleasurable and sensuous to them.

To make sex feel more pleasurable and connecting, it can help to talk to each other about sex, and it can also be helpful to learn to touch each other in enjoyable ways – even when you’re not actually having sex.

Recommended Reading

The book For Each Other: Sharing Sexual Intimacy provides detailed exercises that couples can use to learn to touch each other in pleasurable ways, in and out of the bedroom. Spending time cuddling, massaging each other and really listening to each other can help move your sex from feeling robotic to feeling just the right mix of comforting and exciting.

Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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