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What To Do If You & Your Partner Have Different Sexual Appetites
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What To Do If You & Your Partner Have Different Sexual Appetites

What would you do if you had a higher sex drive than your partner? Leave, cheat, suck it up or try to work it out? I received an email from a woman with this very dilemma. She wanted to know how to move forward with what she described as a “sexless marriage.” She and her husband of eight years were not sexually compatible, to say the least, she had a very high sex drive and wanted sex as often as possible while he, on the other hand, was satisfied with sex once or twice a month. In his defense, she stated that this is how he’s always been. She has always been the one who wanted sex more frequently in their relationship.


Even though this was the norm for their marriage, she was writing me because she was now frustrated, horny, and desperately looking for a solution that didn’t involve leaving her husband. Quiet as it’s kept, mismatched libidos are common for most couples, however rarely do I hear this complaint from women. Oftentimes it’s usually the male partner who’s dissatisfied with the lack of sex, but as we know women are just as sexual as men. And regardless of gender, libido fluctuates for varied reasons. Therefore, finding a partner who will always match yours is few and far between. So, do you throw out the baby with the bath water? No. You figure out the why and become one step closer to fixing the problem.

Throughout our lives our desire for sex changes, which can be caused by aging, stress levels, family life, work, etc. According to one study, desire and frequency issues (both low sexual desire and desire discrepancy) are the most reported sexual concerns (34%) among women. A more recent study delivered similar results, with 40% of participants reporting low sexual desire. Scientifically speaking, there are only two desire styles—-spontaneous and responsive.

Spontaneous desire is when you experience desire first then arousal. This is the kind of desire that is usually portrayed in movies and porn. Spontaneous desire is experienced more by men than women, about 15% of women and 75% of men to be exact. Responsive desire is quite the opposite. With responsive desire, your mind and body need to be aroused before you desire to have sex. About 30% of women and 5% of men have responsive desire. That's a pretty big discrepancy, right? If couples understood these statistics and learned the factors behind their desire or lack thereof, this would alleviate a lot of problems.

Once you understand how your partner is wired sexually, it should be easier to meet in the middle and find common ground that can meet the needs of both parties. If you or your partner are experiencing mismatched libidos, here are some tips you can use to get things back on track.

1.Talk about what is affecting each other’s sex drive.

Vladimir Vladimirov/Getty Images

Talk! Talk! Talk! While sex can be a sensitive subject, talking about it is essential. Respectfully communicating about each other’s feelings, insecurities, desires, and the reason for the low desire can lead to a better understanding of the issue. It could be anything from feeling burnout at work to a lack of emotional intimacy at home.

2.Switch things up in the bedroom.

Nothing kills the libido quicker than boredom. Just like how you get bored from eating the same food all the time, it’s also normal to feel bored from performing the same sexual routine day in and day out. In the case where things are dull, it's time to start venturing out and exploring. Together with your partner, make a list of things you would like to experiment with within the bedroom. Maybe you've never tried sex in front of the mirror or a new sex toy. List all the things that both of you find exciting. And then try those things in the bedroom.

3.Be affectionate, and not only in the bedroom.

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Sex is not the only way to be affectionate. Hugs, kisses, and holding hands are all great ways to keep close and connected, and they don’t always have to lead to sex. Making pleasure and satisfaction a part of their whole day can help people build a desire for sexual pleasure. Driving a partner to work, preparing their food, having a thoughtful conversation, and giving them compliments are just some of the things couples can do to set the mood.

4.Take care of your own needs.

You are responsible for your own needs, so masturbate if you need to. In some instances, masturbation can be a great compromise for one partner who really wants to experience sexual pleasure and the other one who might not be in the mood. You or your partner can opt to masturbate or you can also lend a helping hand to your partner’s masturbation routine so that it now becomes a shared experience between you both.

5.Work with a professional.

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It can be scary navigating intimacy concerns with your partner. Whether you are new to the relationship or are in a committed, long-term partnership, working with a professional can be a source of comfort. Sex therapists, sexologists, and intimacy experts are trained to help you talk about difficult topics and guide you on how to reach your goals together. There may also be instances where the best option for the relationship may not be one you have been open to before. Consider working with an expert if you want support navigating mismatched libidos.

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