Sex? Okay, I Guess

Sex? Okay, I Guess may be the sentiment toward sex by people who consent to sex but don’t have the desire at the moment or for a period of time for a variety of reasons.

One person may have pity on another for needing sex, some think it’s their duty, some may be depressed or have other issues like a sexual dysfunction (see the Depression & Sex, Female Sexual Dysfunction, Libido, Low Male Testosterone (Male Menopause) and Menopause Topics). Sexual desire discrepancy may account for the uneven levels of sexual interest between couples.

Such terms for Sex? Okay, I Guess may include, but are not limited to, Obligatory sex, Maintenance sex, Guilt sex, Mercy sex, Pity sex, Duty sex, Sympathy sex, Charity sex, Mercy fuck or a Pity fuck. There is nothing wrong per se about Sex? Okay, I Guess if it is consensual. However, if either person feels coerced or pressured, then the sex is no longer consensual (see the Consent Topic).

Some experts say there may be benefits to having sex while not in the mood, while others note there may be drawbacks, one of them being that sex is considered a chore or only an obligation.

The sourced articles below should provide more information on having sex when one or both partners is not in the mood.

  1. 5 Reasons Not To Settle for ‘Duty Sex’

    “The truth is there are times when having sex on tap can be a good thing … where a woman can engage in sex simply out of love rather than desire, and it strengthens the marriage … IF attraction is present. If a wife is attracted to her husband, and all she lacks is energy or initiative, then being open to sex is fine. The problem is that in the vast majority of cases, if a wife is resistant to sex, it’s because she’s not attracted. In those cases, ‘duty sex’ not only not helps, it actively hurts the marriage. It’s not in a man’s best interest for his wife to initiate when she’s not attracted.”

    Rebecca Watson,, accessed 5/20/2022

  2. Pity Sex: What It Is and Why Men Hate It

    “Having pity sex may seem like a good solution to the problem when you aren’t feeling up for sex and you know your partner is. The truth is that having pity sex with your partner may actually lead to more problems than it fixes. Sure, you and your partner had sex, but did you really connect through the experience?”

    Greg Douglas, LMHC,, accessed 5/20/2022

  3. Sexuality 101 For Betrayed Women

    “Obligatory Sex Is Not Safe Sex … Like if sex is supposed to be a knowing it means both people matter, but if sex becomes something that you only do because you’re supposed to then your needs are no longer being considered and that means you don’t matter, and then sex becomes a rejection. And that’s not right.”

    Anne Blythe,, accessed 5/20/2022

  4. Ask Emily: I Love Him, But I’m Not Hot For Him

    “You’re doing these things because you feel you should – not because you want to. It’s a pattern many of us fall into, and it comes from a good place: you don’t want to hurt his feelings. You feel obligated. He’s a nice guy! But let me ask you this: do you respect him?”

    Dr. Emily Morse,, 3/4/2022

  5. A Letter to Women – From a Sex Therapist

    “Consent is sexy. Do not be pressured into partnered sex because you feel obliged. Obligatory sex is generally awful and can sometimes be abusive. If you don’t feel confident saying no or being clear on your sexual boundaries, talk to someone to work this through.”

    Julie Sale,, 3/1/2022

  6. Better Solutions To ‘Mercy Sex’

    “The pharmaceutical industry thinks it has the solution to the unsatisfying, chronic ‘mercy sex’ dilemma I first described in 2015. But you can count me in as a doubter about the powers of medical science to transform women’s difficulty with sexual desire.”

    Dr. Aline Zoldbrod, licensed psychologist, individual and couples therapist, AASECT certified sex therapist,, 10/22/2021

  7. Girl Talk: A Conversation About Obligatory Sex Vs Consensual Sex

    “Two women and personal friends from the Pleasure Principles community, GG and Kasey, are back for some ‘girl talk’ about the conditioning behind statements like this, so we can understand how obligatory sex is preventing most women from experiencing pleasure.”

    Dr. Jordin Wiggins, naturopathic doctor,, 7/30/2021

  8. Is Scheduling Sex Bad For Your Relationship?

    Scheduling sex makes the event about sex — not the people. You may get sex alright, but you may not feel nourished by it or feel connected to your partner.”

    Irene Fehr, Sex & Intimacy Coach,, 6/30/2021

  9. Do You Owe Your Husband Sex? Duty Sex In Marriage

    “Answer: No. Obligation sex revolves around the idea that a wife is bound to have sex with her husband, whether she likes it or not. But if you are in a marriage when your husband prioritizes your pleasure and enjoyment, if you know you can say ‘no’ to sex BUT choose to be intimate (even if you are not feeling like it at that moment), that’s not duty sex. When you understand you can say no but choose to be intimate because it’s good for your connection, that’s a beautiful thing!”

    Ngina Otiende, certified marriage coach,, 5/14/2021

  10. No, You Don’t ‘Owe’ Your Spouse Sex

    “Some individuals feel a sense of shame and guilt for not being ‘in the mood’ and engage in the act anyway because of it. To them, sex is an obligation, a task they must perform, or a chore, like doing the wash or drying the dishes. … But none of these approaches are healthy. Having sex in this manner is not sustainable, for you or your partner. And it is dangerous. It treads a fine line.”

    Anonymous,, 4/11/2021

  11. Why Maintenance Sex Matters So Much In A Marriage

    “‘Intentional maintenance sex helps you remain connected, which means you talk about and plan when arousal may be most available for each of you,’ explains Celeste Holbrook, Ph.D., sexual health consultant in Fort Worth, Texas. ‘Sometimes sex is just average—it may not be incredibly mind-blowing or may have an emphasis on only one partner, yet it is still an effective way to stay physically connected.’”

    Jenn Sinrich,, 3/12/2021

  12. Mediocre Sex Is Wonderful: Maintenance Sex Is Better Than No Sex

    “What’s the solution? Good ol’ garden-variety, maintenance sex. … It might not be the hottest, erotic encounter of a lifetime but it keeps the connection there, the dopamine levels up, and enables a healthy sublimated expression for tensions, ensures touch, and most of all, it prevents a further escalation toward the sex-starved marriage.”

    Assael Romanelli, PhD,, 1/8/2021

  13. Why Maintenance Sex Is So Important In Happy Marriages

    “Obviously, if this is the only way you’re having sex, there is a problem. If you feel fully sexually unsatisfied or are experiencing an unusually prolonged dip in libido, that is a separate issue and you should address it with your therapist or health-care provider. Sex is like going to the gym: You don’t want to do it before, but once you suck it up and hit the elliptical, you feel amazing afterward.”

    Gigi Engle,, 9/24/2020

  14. What To Do When You And Your Partner Have Wildly Different Sex Drives

    “For Briana and her husband, for example, there is an ongoing conversation around how they can find a middle ground that makes both of them happy. Sometimes, that means engaging in maintenance sex. ‘It’s about me fulfilling a need for him because I love him,’ says Briana. In other cases, it means redefining what sex is, and also embracing non-sexual intimacy.”

    Steph Auteri,, 9/3/2020

  15. 10 Truths About Sex In Long-Term Relationships & Why It Decreases

    “6. People tend to enjoy sex once they start having it, even if they weren’t initially in the mood. … It means that if you don’t tend to spontaneously feel like having sex throughout your day, it doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy sex once you’re having it.”

    Kelly Gonsalves; Kristie Overstreet, Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, CST,, 2/21/2020

  16. Guilt Sex Is When Doing It Feels Like a Total (Consensual) Chore, Minus The Allowance

    “While your partner may well be great (hence why you’re trying to maintain the relationship), don’t forget that the most important relationship you have is the one with yourself. Do right by your VIP.”

    Mary Grace Garis,, 5/30/2019

  17. Should You Have Sex With Your Spouse When You Don’t Want To?

    “But if your partner is a good person, and a responsible citizen in the relationship, pushing yourself to have sex once in a while can keep your libido from going into deep freeze especially if children come along.”

    Harriet Lerner, PhD,, 1/27/2019

  18. What is maintenance sex? It may help strengthen your marriage

    “Again, how frequently a couple should have sex — maintenance or otherwise — depends on their relationship. Openly discuss what sounds and feels healthy for you, and then take advantage of existing downtime (or create some) in a way that meets each other’s needs.”

    Wendy Rose Gould,, 1/13/2019

  19. 341 Mercy Sex: How Much Is ‘Normal’

    Abstract: “Women engage in sexual relations despite the absence of personal interest. Such sexual activity has been termed: duty sex, obligatory sex, or mercy sex. Over the past two decades medical treatments for hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD; DSM-IV-TR) have investigated thousands of women. Women entering these HSDD clinical trials continue to have sexual relations with their partners despite their HSDD. Here we quantify the ‘normal’ frequency of sexual activity (without interest), aka ‘mercy sex’ in these trial participants. … Monogamous, heterosexual couples engage in sexual activity between two and three times per (28 days) even when the female partner has HSDD. Such ‘mercy sex’ is remarkably consistent in frequency whether premenopausal (on or off oral contraceptives; data not shown) or menopausal (on hormone therapy or not), and spanning the last two decades.”

    J.A. Simon and R. Pollycove,, 2/1/2018

  20. Here’s How Experts Define Maintenance Sex, & Why It’s One Way To Keep The Spark Alive

    “What maintenance sex is not, however, is having sex when you have been coerced, pressured, or you straight-up do not want to, Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent, tells Elite Daily. ‘Let’s get one thing straight: Rape, or sex by force, is never acceptable whether with a long-term partner, acquaintance, or stranger,’ she explains. Period.”

    Rachel Shatto,, 12/2/2018

  21. 3 Reasons Why ‘Mercy Sex’ Is Ruining Your Relationship

    “Routine mercy sex actually brings you further apart, NOT closer together. … In this case, mercy sex is the sex that a woman offers to her partner to meet his (or her) sexual/emotional needs when that woman is not in the mood to have sexual pleasure for herself. And here, it certainly has its place.”

    Aline Zoldbrod,, 6/8/2015