If the person next to you wants to have sex tonight and you’re not sure whether you’re in the mood, should you do it? It depends on who the person next to you is.
Suppose the person who’s looking for action is someone you don’t know well or who just wants casual sex. If you also were really interested in hooking up, you might do it. But if you’re not sure, just not that into it, why would you? Sex is a gift. You don’t have to give it to someone just because that person wants it.
Let’s compare it to cooking dinner for someone. There may be times when you’d be happy to make a meal for a friend: it’s the friend’s birthday, maybe, or she’s visiting from out of town, or there’s a recipe you’re eager to share with him. Making the meal would be fun, an act of love, affection, generosity. You’d feel good about it. But what if you weren’t particularly in the mood to cook, and an acquaintance pressured you to make dinner? The person might be hungry, might say you’re a good cook, whatever. If you made the meal, it would have a totally different feeling from the dinner you were excited to make for a good friend. You might feel used or resent having been pressured. So why would you do it?
Having sex is a bigger gift than making a meal. It is much more intimate, more personal–much more to ask. No one has a right to expect casual sex from you if you’re not interested for your own sake. Don’t say Yes unless you really want to.
On the other hand, if you’re in an ongoing relationship, that changes the discussion. When you’re definitely not in the mood tonight, say No (nicely). Your partner should accept that.
But there are times when you may feel neutral about having sex with the person you love. You aren’t mad at your partner or completely exhausted or anything; you just haven’t thought much about sex tonight and you’re not particularly horny. What then?
You could think about consent: “Should I do this if I’m not really into it?” and “Is his/her asking me really pressure that I should resist?” This puts you into your head and takes you out of the moment. It also leaves your partner out of the equation.
Instead, sometimes you might decide to say Yes, or Maybe, as a gift to your partner, out of love. “Well, I’m not really horny tonight, but if you’re willing to work at getting me going, we can give it a try.” You may find that you get into it once things start warming up. Or the sex may only be okay, but you may enjoy the contact with your significant other or may be happy to make him/her happy. Because when you love someone, there’s pleasure in doing things for him/her (as he or she does for you).
From my perspective, it’s all about the relationship. It’s smart to have a strong No when it comes to random people. But when your partner wants some loving and you’re on the fence, that might be a time to go over to the Yes side.