A hot topic for many women, maintenance sex can be easily misunderstood in a climate of evolving gender politics. Find out what it really is and if it should be a part of your relationship.

While maintenance sex is traditionally considered a thing women do for men, it’s actually a universal concept, that comes into play whenever two people love each other but they understand that love can’t automatically match their libidos perfectly.

Understand What Maintenance Sex Really Is

Taking your partner’s needs seriously is important in any romantic relationship regardless of gender. That’s where maintenance sex comes in, as a different type of intimate connection. It’s “take it or leave it” sex, the kind of sexual activity that you perform with your partner when you’re not necessarily horny, but you’re not in a really bad mood either. In order to really get why it’s an important tool for any relationship, check out a few maintenance sex dos and don’ts.

Don’t Confuse It with Marital Rape

For many feminists, the idea of maintenance sex causes an instant knee-jerk reaction by association with marital rape. The two are very different concepts, and maintenance sex only turns into rape when one partner is pressured or guilted into it by the other.

Accept That Sex Drives Can’t Always Match

While every relationship has a honeymoon phase in which you and your guy can’t keep your hands off each other, that doesn’t usually extend to long term relationships. When there’s no huge gap between your libido and your partner’s, maintenance sex can help keep an intimate physical connection when one or the other isn’t necessarily in the mood.

Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No”

Maintenance sex is in no way a duty or a guarantee that your partner will be happy. You should absolutely say no when you’re definitely not in the mood for it. Whether you’re too tired or too angry for sex, don’t go into it when you know it just won’t work in any way. A lot of times, you can start with a “meh” and really get into it, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll get in the mood.

Pay Attention to Body Language

Whether you’re requesting maintenance sex from your guy or he is, it’s important to only say yes when you know that your body language won’t give a different message than your words. If you agree to maintenance sex, you don’t have to give your partner a 10 experience, but you should aim for at least a 4.

Don’t Expect It to Be Mind-Blowing

One of the most important maintenance sex don’ts is having unreasonable expectations. It’s usually a low-impact activity, just the basics that keep everyone happy without causing any real stress. It doesn’t have to be the full menu, and sometimes an entrée is all your partner needs until the next time you’re in the mood and ready for the main course.


The idea behind maintenance sex is that keeping sexual intimacy alive is something you both need to focus on. That’s why you should reciprocate if you’ve asked your partner for sex when he was tired, and you have every right to expect him to make an effort when you need it, because you were also there for him when he needed it.

Think of It As Any Relationship Compromise

Maintenance sex is a hot topic only because many people insist on separating sex form all the other parts of a relationship. In fact, every relationship has plenty of compromises and sacrifices, from watching a movie you’re not interested in to doing a household chore that your partner hates.

Ask for It the Right Way

Making demands or feeling entitled to sex is not the right way to go about when you’re requesting maintenance sex. While generosity to your partner can be very rewarding in the long run, you shouldn’t accept or attempt any form of coercion, no matter how subtle it is.

Don’t Turn It into Default Sex

While some dry spells can be fixed with a little maintenance sex, remember that this isn’t the kind of sex where both of you are giving it 100%. No matter how tired you both are, make time for keeping your intimate relationship strong with grade A sex regularly, because a relationship can’t survive on half-hearted sex alone.