Sex Talk

Women's Mood Swings Around Sex

Q from a Male, Junior student at University of Maine. My girlfriend sometimes goes sometimes for weeks without being interested in sex. However, the instant she is again, she assumes that I'll be ready to respond to her every solicitation. Is it normal for women's desires to swing like this?

Dr. Caron's Answer: Thank you for your question. There seems to be two parts to it - one related to her expectations of you when she is interested, and the other which has to do with changing desire. I would like to address the latter one first. Sexual desire varies considerably from person to person - and is not necessarily based on gender....for example, there are men who go for long periods of time without showing any interest and then all of a sudden seem to have a desire for sex. Variation in desire is normal. There are some people who just seem to have low desire all the time - it has never been a big issue, while others seem to go through life with very high desire. In terms of the fluctuation in a person's desire, hormones can certainly play a role for some women - and perhaps this is the case for your partner. And as you have seen firsthand, sexual desire also varies from time to time for an individual. A person who used to be interested in sex on a daily basis may find that for whatever reason, they don't have time or it is not a priority at this point in their life and vice versa. In your situation, you say she seems to have no desire for weeks and then is interested. Hormones, her work schedule, and energy level could all be playing a role, or even how well things are going between you in your relationship. As your relationship continues, you may be able to discover what seems to trigger her desire or non-desire.... and be better prepared for what is in store. The other part of your question has to do with expectations.... in your case, you say she is not interested at all for weeks and then once she is interested, she expects an immediate response... which does seem unfair. We are not robots, able to respond on command. Unfortunately, some people do hold onto the misconception that all men are ready and interested in sex at the drop of a hat..... we hear about studies that say that men think about sex hundreds of times a day... so why shouldn't he be able to perform this instant? As you describe your situation, it appears you have a wonderful opportunity for the two of you to have a heart-to-heart about what has been, until now, unspoken ground rules within your relationship. It is time to negotiate. Having the conversation outside the bedroom will be useful, and making it clear that you want to improve the relationship - not cause problems - will reassure her that this conversation is important. Try to be honest. Let her know how you feel - which should include the part about her not desiring you for weeks (which may cause hurt feelings for you), as well as her expectation for an immediate response when she is interested. No one wants to feel pressured to do things they aren't ready for. Use this as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship.

Best wishes.

© 2009, Sandra L. Caron

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It is not sex that gives the pleasure, but the lover. - Marge Piercy

American teens have the worst of all worlds...Our children are bombarded and confronted with sexual messages, sexual exploitation, and all manner of sexual criticism. But our society is by and large sexually illiterate. Faye Westheimer

Dr. Sandra L. Caron is a professor of human sexuality at the University of Maine. To submit a question to Dr. Caron or chat with your peers visit Got a question for Dr. Caron? Visit and ask away! Get a guaranteed personal and confidential response to your question: or E-Mail

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