Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


3 Common Ways Men Turn Women Off in Relationships

1. Not sharing the burden of chores.

Women are relentlessly sexualized and objectified in pop culture, to the extent that what they actually desire and find attractive gets much less attention. Fortunately, we can look to new insights from relationship science to distill facts and research about female desire. Here are three must-know keys to the nature of female desire, as suggested by new psychological research.

1. The burden of unshared chores. Typically, the woman of the house carries most of the load of household responsibilities in a marriage or long-term relationship. When the man pitches in, the act is usually (and inaccurately) labeled as "help" or "support."

An unfair division of household labor can pose romantic problems. For instance, a recent study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that women who did a larger proportion of the household labor relative to their partners felt lower sexual desire for their partners as they considered it to be unfair and, as result, perceived their partners to be dependent on them.

To balance the scales and restore a woman’s sexual desire, researchers Emily Harris and Sari Van Anders have the following tips for men:

  • Initiate conversation. Most women take on this additional labor without an explicit conversation about it. To truly see a change in your relationship, you need to open up dialogue around dividing chores equitably. This could be as simple as saying to your partner, “Hey, I notice you’ve been doing a lot of work around the house. Is there anything I can take off your hands?”
  • Take action. Taking responsibility in the house is a lifestyle change that, when executed correctly, will improve more than just your sex life. To reap the benefits, one needs to stop perceiving women as the de facto project managers of the home and take charge without being asked to do so.

2. The same old broken sexual record. Gendered sexual scripts – society’s version of what intimacy should look like – are one of the biggest roadblocks to female pleasure. Put simply, the way we go about navigating sexual scenarios is obsolete. The most common sexual scripts uphold male pleasure and paint the female orgasm as secondary and complicated.

A study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy explains that simply educating yourself about female pleasure is not enough. One has to make the effort to go "off-script," asking your partner about their likes and dislikes to ensure a fulfilling sex life.

Instead of selfishly reusing the same gendered script as a crutch the next time you’re intimate with your partner, let them take the lead. Being deliberate about sex, even if it seems new and awkward, makes for a far more authentic and exciting experience than playing it safe, doing only what you know, or constantly putting your needs first.

3. Replaced by pornography. For some men, compulsive pornography use can have spillover effects on their relationship. The hedonic spike derived from consuming porn may chip away at their sex drive and attraction toward a partner. Further, not only does most pornography set unrealistic standards for what sex looks and sounds like, but it also panders to the male gaze, largely ignoring the female perspective.

However, villainizing pornography is not the solution. In fact, shared porn consumption can actually help turn this problem into a solution, according to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology. Psychologist Taylor Kohut, the lead author of the paper, explains that “using pornography together with a partner can encourage sexual communication and sexual experimentation, which can help people learn about each other's sexual likes and dislikes, and may bring people closer together as a couple.” In other words, it’s healthier to use pornography as a shared supplement than as an escape.


Sexual desire is complex and dynamic. Assuming that you understand what your partner wants all the time might lead you to disappointment. On the other hand, really listening to your partner and making an effort to fulfill their desires produces positive effects that extend beyond your sex life.

Facebook image: JR-50/Shutterstock

More from Mark Travers Ph.D.
More from Psychology Today
5 Min Read
Although the bonds in a friendship contribute greatly to the friends’ well-being, it is not uncommon that the bonds decrease with time.
More from Mark Travers Ph.D.
More from Psychology Today