Relationship goals

What can you do if you and your partner have different sex drives?

📸 Photography by Danny Cozens

So you want it. And they don’t. Or you can feel them looking at you with hopeful eyes, but you sure as hell aren’t in the mood. Again.

A difference in sex drives is an incredibly common issue. And it is arguably one of the trickiest; you often become stuck in a confusing game of cat and mouse in which no one is the winner. But no fear, the beauty of this issue is that there are so many solutions, and the beauty of being in a committed relationship is that you have someone to figure it all out with over time.

issues

 

Essentially this issue is a simple blameless fact; the frequency of sex that we require right now is different. But it’s not easy to view differences in sex drive so objectively.

No matter how practical or confident you are; when you get repeatedly rejected it’s very hard not to start taking it personally. And no matter how understanding you are, if you feel hassled or like you are constantly letting someone down, it’s very hard not to be annoyed or upset too. It’s easy to get resentful and let this impact other areas of your relationship. But try not to. We are all sensitive when it comes to our sex lives, and the other person will be feeling just as fragile as you about your current plight. Be reassured that almost every couple has problems in their sex life at some stage, it’s just that they don’t advertise this fact.

reasons

 

Usually there are things that both of you could be doing to help the situation.

If you’re the higher drive one; you may initiate in a way that is already defeatist. This is not sexy. Better to make a move less frequently, but with a playful and optimistic manner, than to make moves more frequently but in a half hearted way. Of course, when you genuinely come onto them (instead of just taking off your pants and hoping for the best) you are more vulnerable if you get rejected, because you have actually tried. But life is full of gambles. Also, make sure there are times when you have physical contact where you don’t hope or hint at it being sexual. They need to know they can be close to you without any sexual expectations. 

Do you spend too much time wanting sex, is it in a slightly addictive way? Sometimes we don’t want sex because we are genuinely horny, but because we want to tick ‘Yes’ in the sex box in our head: ‘Yes I have had sex with this person – at this time – because that is what ‘should’ happen – and that is what will make my ego feel secure’. Having said that, you should never feel bad for simply having a large sexual appetite.

If you’re the lower drive one, you may often be feeling guilty or under pressure, or anxious about their expectations. Thus may feel like you need to stay in ‘shut-that-shit-down’ mode. But take note of what this BYB respondent said about what helped them overcome these issues: “Deciding to give myself time to become aroused even if I am not in the mood. Perhaps I could be.”

Low sex drive may be due to current medication or lifestyle habits, boring but true. Hormonal contraception, especially progestin only methods can kill sex drive, or affect the type of attraction the woman feels. If something has affected your libido you may view yourself as someone who isn’t that horny, but try not to label yourself in this way. We all like good sex, it’s only the when and the how that varies.

Negative past experiences can be a factor. Childhood abuse and trauma is sadly fairly common, for men and for women. Even just mildly unpleasant or disappointing experiences can have a lasting impact. If you’ve had some, or a lot, of sex that you weren’t particularly enjoying, or that you felt like the other person wasn’t particularly enjoying, this can have an effect too. It’s helpful to think of your dick or pussy as its own Self. What situations has it been in that it didn’t like? Has it done things it feels guilty about? Has it been hurt? 

I wrote mine a letter once, and I highly recommend it.

different vibes

 

It may not be that you necessarily have ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ sex drives; but that the way you are turned on is different. You may have a ‘Spontaneous’ libido whereas your partner may be more ‘Responsive’. Essentially, Spontaneous types get mentally turned on first, and then go and make the physical happen. Whereas Responsive types may not feel in the mood, until their body is physically turned on.

We can be both, but usually lean more towards one. Sex therapist Vanessa Marin advises:

Spontaneous Types: You should be willing to make the time and the effort to get your partner physically aroused

Responsive Types: You should be open to being physical before you feel mentally interested in sex (since you’ll rarely feel mental interest before being physical)

solutions

 

Unravelling all of this takes time. It can take people years to open up to the person they love, about the things they keep buried. Never give up on having the fulfilling and connected sex life of your dreams, but don’t expect it to happen immediately or without effort. 

Try to see these issues not as a symptom of failings in your relationship, but as a symptom of a society that does not prepare us well. Instead of being given a comprehensive manual on sex and relationships, we are given confusing, inaccurate or judgemental messages.

Don’t feel bad because you haven’t got it all figured out, how boring would that be?

For women who struggle to orgasm, or couples who feel like their sex drives are mismatched; I recommend subscribing to sex therapist Vanessa Marin’s emails or following her on IG

 

For men who feel pressure to perform I recommend ‘Beyond Tantra’ by Mieke and Stephen Wik. Yes it is incredibly hippy, so brace yourself, but if you can look past that it has very good information on sexual contact that doesn’t rely on a rock hard boner. This article is also useful.

 

I would recommend the above ‘Beyond Tantra’ book in general to couples. I realise the ‘chakra chat’ may be a big turn off, but it gives an incredible window into what our sex lives could be if we learnt to touch and connect with each other in a more focused way.

 

For those who have had something happen that has affected their sex drive, physical healing such as acupuncture, cranial osteopathy or abdominal massage can be hugely beneficial. Alternatively, the Rewind Technique from a trained Human Givens therapist is very effective for getting you out of whatever rut you are stuck in.

 

If in the past you have been made to feel guilty about what you like sexually, or if you feel guilty about things you have done - talk to your partner! Be vulnerable. They should be supportive and kind. If they make you feel more ashamed this could be a warning sign about your relationship.

 

Maybe some of the stuff your partner does; you don’t like. The more confident you can be with what turns you on, the better able you are to talk about it and help guide someone. Tips here.

 

If you want full advice on being monogamous and maintaining a good sex life, read Esther Perel’s book ‘Mating in Captivity’ or watch her videos

Alternative solution: “Get a packet in and have sex all night or get a packet in and get a limp dick”

Thank you for those that reached out about your sex drives. I will be doing a specific Q&A, so if you submitted a question hold tight because it might be yours that I answer tomorrow.

don’t beat around the bush

 

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