9 signs your significant other is guilt-tripping you into having sex

Relationships often come with the expectation of sex, and that’s why when you start seriously dating someone, it usually won’t take long for the topic to come up. And if you’re not quite ready to go “all the way” with your partner, it might be a topic that just won’t disappear. At a certain point, the questioning becomes hard to bear, and you have to ask yourself: Is your significant other guilt-tripping you into having sex?

Unfortunately, this kind of behavior happens all the time, and it often gets brushed off as being no big deal. The image of a someone (usually men) begging their partner for sex is one we’re all familiar with, a storyline we’ve seen in countless books, movies, and television shows, something we’ve heard other women we know talk about. It’s so common that we can start to feel like maybe it’s normal — maybe it’s just a part of being in a relationship that everyone has to learn to deal with.

It’s not. In fact, there’s an official term for someone guilt-tripping you into having sex. It’s often referred to as “sexual coercion,” which can be considered a form of sexually aggressive behavior. According to The Hotline, sexual coercion can “vary from being egged on and persuaded, to being forced to have contact. It can be verbal and emotional, in the form of statements that make you feel pressure, guilt, or shame. You can also be made to feel forced through more subtle actions.”

Guilting someone into saying yes to sex is a form of manipulation. Is it possible that your partner isn’t intentionally trying to be manipulative? Sure — maybe they’re just so focused on what they want that they’re having trouble seeing past that. Still doesn’t seem like a much better alternative, though! The fact of the matter is this: Even if someone isn’t forcing you into sexual acts against your will, just making you feel obligated to do it is a form of manipulation.

If you feel like you’re being unfairly guilted into having sex, then chances are good that that’s exactly what’s happening — and it’s not something you ever have to put up with. The below examples will help you figure out if your significant other is guilt-tripping you into having sex, and hopefully help you figure out how to move forward from there.

1. They say things like, “Don’t you want me to be happy?”

You want to make your partner happy, and your partner knows this. So, if they ever say something like, “don’t you want to make me happy?” when asking for sex, then you better believe they are trying to guilt you into giving the green light. A phrase along these lines simultaneously makes you feel like you owe this person sex, and that if you don’t give it to them, they might stray and find it elsewhere. It makes you feel obligated, like it’s your duty as their partner to do this, and that’s definitely their way of guilting you into saying yes.

2. They keep asking even if you’ve already said no.

Does your partner keep asking for sex, even if you’ve already said no? Maybe they try to do it in a way that makes it seem like they’re joking, so it seems harmless. Maybe they don’t do it in words, but in actions, by continuing to kiss and grab you. Or maybe it doesn’t even happen right in that moment, but instead over the course of a few days (example: a text the next day saying something like, “I know you said you wanted to wait, but how much longer do you think you’ll need? I don’t know how much longer I can wait!” or “Can we have sex tonight? I know you said you weren’t feeling great, but I REALLY want you!”). If you’ve already made it clear that you aren’t ready, or don’t feel like it, and they continue asking or begging, they could be trying to wear you down so that, in the end, you consider saying yes because, again, you feel obligated to.

3. They use your past against you.

Being guilt-tripped into having sex is often seen as something that only happens to virgins, but that’s not true at all. Your partner can still guilt you into sex even if you’ve had sex before. If you’ve slept with other people but not them, they might say things like, “What’s the big deal when you’ve already had sex?” And if you’ve slept with them before, then they probably won’t take no for an answer unless an excuse is attached to it (i.e. “I’m not feeling well tonight”). Either way, if your partner is using your past as a way to get you to say yes, that’s not cool.

4. You often start to feel annoyed with your partner, even if you’re not sure exactly why.

The thing about guilt-trips is that, more often than not, they work — but they don’t have great side effects. According to Psychology Today, “Guilt trips frequently induce not just strong feelings of guilt but equally strong feelings of resentment toward the manipulator.” If your significant other has been guilting you into sex, or trying to guilt you into sex, it’s probably causing a build-up of resentment and anger in you, and you might not even realize it.

5. They’ve brought up the idea of breaking up after you say no.

When a partner guilt-trips you, it’s often because they feel like they have the power to do so. If your partner is using the threat of ending the relationship to get you to say yes, it’s because they feel they can get away with that — they think you would do anything to stay with them. Does your S.O. allude to a breakup by saying things like, “I don’t know how much longer I can go without having sex” after you say no? Or maybe they’re less subtle and they just say things like, “I can’t be in a relationship without sex.” If this topic is only brought up after you’ve said no to sex, they’re trying to change your mind for their sake.

6. They blame your behavior for their pressure.

Your partner might guilt-trip you into having sex by acting like it’s your fault that they want it in the first place. They might say things like, “You shouldn’t have kissed me if you didn’t want to take things further” or “When you said you’d come over to watch a movie, you made it seem like you wanted to do more than that, so what did you expect me to think?” These types of statements make you feel like you’re doing something wrong by saying no, even though you definitely aren’t.

7. They act differently after you say no.

Think about how your S.O. acts toward you after you say “no” to sex. If they seem a little frustrated but also drop the subject and move on, great! If they change their attitude…not so great. In that case, they might start to act standoff-ish and strange, like they don’t really want to be around you anymore. Maybe they’ll say they need to get to bed, or maybe they’ll only give you one word answers for a few days. This type of behavior is enough to guilt you into saying yes to get them out of their funk, which is incredibly unfair to you.

8. They make it seem like sex and love are the same things.

Your partner should never use love against you when it comes to having sex. They shouldn’t be saying things like, “But I thought you loved me?” or “If you really loved me, you would do this with me.” They might try to be a little more subtle about it, with a statement like, “This is what people do when they’re in love — why don’t you get that?” which, again, makes you feel like you’re doing something wrong. You can love someone without having sex with them, and if your S.O. makes you feel differently, that is not acceptable.

9. They put themselves down after you say no.

Another way for your significant other to guilt-trip you into saying yes is if they start talking badly about themselves. They might say something like, “I knew you wouldn’t want to have sex with me, I knew I wasn’t good enough for you.” Your partner knows that you care about them and you don’t want to make them feel badly about themselves, so again, they’re trying to manipulate you by using that against you.

If you feel like your significant other is guilt-tripping you into having sex and you aren’t sure how to handle it, you have options. You can always call the National Domestic Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for help.