When I wanted to stop sex in the middle of it!

Yeah…not sure I want to do that!

It sounds embarassing, uncomfortable, like something to never be talked about again. Why does it sound so hard to put sex on pause? It’s already so easy to do so with our movies, television series, and especially with way too intense true crime documentaries, right?

Like in every situation, there is not only ”before and after” there is also everything in between.

And it is during that stage that all the possibilities are open.

Nowadays, we hear all the time about the importance of consent, thanks to the #metoo movement. First, consent must be free/willing, without coercion or any kind of obligations. Then consent must also be coherent, where people must not be incapacitated by drugs, alcohol, or anything else.

Yet, there are other forms of consent, less popular or talked about. For example, ongoing consent, where consent must be obtained at each step and must be renewed until the end of the sex. It is easy to understand, that we have the right, at every moment, to say no and withdraw consent. But actually doing so, right in the middle of it… it feels weird, embarrassing, and filled with guilt.

There is also something not that clear, about the actual definition of ongoing consent. What does “each step” and until the end “really mean? After an orgasm? After both partners (or more) had their orgasm? And in the intimacy of a long-lasting couple? It is possible that day-to-day routine can alter what we see as ” the end of the sex”?

There is the belief that sexuality is natural, almost animal-like, and can’t be tamed. Yet, sexuality is more of a social interaction than a sort of powerful urge. Sexual activities are like any kind of social gathering, we share, we listen, we laugh, we are here for each other, in this human warmth.

SOS, please I want to stop!

For example, let’s pretend sex is like happy hour with friends and coworkers. Yet this time, the need to head home and watch Netflix instead is getting stronger by the minute. What was supposed to be all fun and games now feels heavy. It shouldn’t feel like a burden!

Everyone has already felt like this before in a sexual context or another. But really, how does it work? What does our inner dialogue say during sex with no end in sight?

  • I can’t really stop in the middle of oral sex, can I?
  • If I don’t at least give them an orgasm, they are gonna be sooooo mad…
  • They are going to think I don’t want them or that they don’t turn me on enough
  • I should just wait until they finish. I don’t want to explain how I feel…
  • Maybe I could make them come faster!
  • I just can’t wait for it to be over, is it over yet?
  • I can’t even pretend I like this anymore…
  • Do they know I want to stop?
  • What are they going to say after this ?!
  • They are going to get angry at me…

These are only a few examples of what can go on in someone’s head that wants to end sex. It is possible to fear the partner’s response, maybe trying to rationalize or to justify ourselves to go on with it. Maybe being afraid of being judged, feeling abnormal, or feeling like a real party-pooper. It is possible to feel really bad, forced to continue, and having the fear of disappointing.

As opposed to other social contexts, sex is deeply personal and intimate. This is where we are at our most vulnerable, so our fears and apprehensions are enhanced. Ultimately, we have to choose what is best for us. Easier said than done, it often implies overlooking social norms and fears of judgment. Taking a step back and wait until the moment feels right, is oftentimes the best decision.

Sometimes, we just need to take a break. And that is perfectly fine.

My partner stopped sex right in the middle! What the…?

It is kind of easy to see when a partner is no longer in the mood. What happens is, most of the time, we just don’t want to face it. Have you ever been in one of these situations :

  • Your partner looks more and more disengaged as the sex goes on
  • You feel like your partner’s mind is somewhere else, anywhere but with you
  • Their touches feel mechanical, disorganized like something is missing
  • They avoid eye contact
  • Pelvic thrusts are kind of lazy
  • Moanings and sounds are weaker and lower as it goes
  • They say things like: are you done yet?

And with that, comes a lot of intrusive thoughts or scenarios when we feel a partner wants to stop sex.

  • Is it my fault? Did I hurt them?
  • I was so in the mood! That’s not fair…
  • They always get to decide when we have sex
  • Were they thinking about someone else?
  • Should I be worried? Am I good enough?
  • I knew it, I am too fat for them…
  • I will speed things up, at least I’ll get my orgasm.

When a partner wants to end sex, it is normal to feel rejected, incompetent, to feel like we’re not enough or sexually undesirable. We can feel disappointed, angry, sad, and also a bit guilty. Thinking it is our fault the other wants to end things.

It would not be fair to pressure a friend during happy hour to stay and shove their drink down their throat so that the night can go on. So, it would not be fair to make our partner keep on having sex they don’t feel like having anymore. When it comes to sex, the show MUST NOT go on…Unfortunately, this happens a lot, mainly in long-lasting relationships. Are you guilty of accepting or giving pity sex?

Halting sex, not always a bad outcome!

Stopping in the middle means trust. Where our partner can wholeheartedly embrace us, or where we can do that for someone.

It also means empathy. Being able to put ourselves in the other’s shoes and answer their needs in the most helpful way.

It means to put emphasis on quality, rather than quantity. It helps taking control of our relationships.

Your partner will also want to have sex with you next time if you respected them the previous time. Kind of obvious, but oooh so hard to put into practice! Especially when you’re not happy you didn’t get your nooky!

It can serve as a perfect moment to think about the quality of our sex life, and how we can do better.

But mostly, stopping in the middle means being human, with fluctuations and changes. It means we are given the chance to listen and understand ourselves more.


By Rachel Baril, sexologue