How to address mismatched sex drives

 
mismatched sex drives

(First Published in Sassy Hong Kong)

Here’s what to do if one party in your relationship has a higher sex drive than the other.

Do you recall the “golden days” when you first met each other? When you were both happy to wander around naked and in a post-coital daze for days? And when all it took for both of you to jump into bed, was a knowing look and a naughty grin? Then life happens. Work. Netflix. Rinse. Repeat. And before you know it, you fall a bit out of sync as a couple. Maybe it starts with sleep schedules or tastes in restaurants. And finally, the desire for sex.


DON’T PLAY THE BLAME GAME

So what do you do if you find yourself in this situation? Firstly, don’t panic and don’t be too hard on yourself. Accept that it’s totally normal for our individual sex drives to constantly fluctuate over the course of our lives. There are so many factors that affect the libido (like age, lifestyle, hormones, medical reasons, fatigue and stress) and many aren’t even connected to the other person, or how attractive you find them. A person can go from a state of high desire to a state of low desire, or vice versa, in a matter of days and it’s unrealistic to expect that your partner will match you exactly. This only really becomes an issue when a couple’s libidos are mismatched over a longer period of time.

Sex is a form of emotional connection and intimacy, so when that goes away for a while it’s easy to feel the relationship has lost its spark. It’s also common for the partner experiencing higher desire to feel rejected, frustrated and undesirable, and for the partner experiencing lower desire to feel pressurised and guilty. This can lead to a vicious cycle where the high desire partner (or “pursuer”) chases even harder, and the low desire partner (or “distancer”) starts to refuse even simple physical contact, like affectionate hugs or kisses because they fear it will lead to sex.

TALK ABOUT MAKING SEX A PRIORITY

If you and your partner are struggling with mismatched sex drives, it’s important to address it in a constructive, non-confrontational way. Remind yourself how and why sex is important to you, and to your relationship. Identify what your ideal frequency for sex is, and see how much it differs from that of your partner. Consider what it is that’s affecting your sex drive, whether it’s physical, psychological, medical or some other reason. And then agree with your partner to make sex a priority again, by working together to address the root cause.

GIVE PLENTY OF AFFECTION & REASSURANCE

When you’re not in the mood for sex, it’s easy to give a hard “no” – which is totally within your rights! But within a healthy long-term relationship, it can be beneficial to work with your partner to explain your thought process, or to suggest a time where you may feel more up for it. “How about this weekend?” can go a long way. When sex drives fluctuate it’s important to make sure you are showing your affection to your partner in other ways. Hugs, kisses, and cuddles, as well as eye to eye contact and words of affirmation (“you’re wonderful”) can reassure your partner that you want to keep close and connected. And that it doesn’t always have to lead to sex.

I teach my clients, who face similar challenges, about the different levels of touch (healing, affectionate, sensual, erotic and sexual) so that they can bond better, without fearing that they are sending or receiving the wrong message.

BROADEN YOUR DEFINITION OF BEING SEXUAL

A rewarding and meaningful sexual interaction doesn’t always have to mean full on penetrative intercourse. In fact, I often suggest the idea of taking intercourse off the table, to make sensual or erotic touch the entire intention of lovemaking. There are lots of ways to still fulfil some of the higher desire partner’s needs by sexting, dirty talk, giving sexy back rubs, using a toy, watching porn together, or even “lending a hand” in their masturbation, so at least there is a shared experience between the two of you.

RE-CREATE THE “GOLDEN DAYS”

One of the most common libido killers is boredom. As you grow more comfortable with your partner, sex may become routine and both of you may get more complacent about exploring new things and spicing things up sexually. I like the idea of going back to a time when sex was working well for both of you and recreating those conditions. This could mean going on holiday, doing some naughty dress up and flirting with each other.

PRACTICE SOME SELF-CARE

This may sound counterintuitive, but making sure you have enough time to dedicate to a routine of self-care and self-love, will help you amp things up in the bedroom. Get more sleep, pass on chores to a helper or engage in a daily meditation practice. Focus on bringing yourself back into balance, and consciously reflect on what and when you feel the most turned on.

One of my favourite recommendations for sexual wellness and self-care is masturbation. This can be greatly beneficial to health, help with stress relief and bring about an overall sense of wellbeing. The more often you have an orgasm, the more sexy hormones (dopamine and endorphins) flood the brain, and eventually you could find your sex drive also increases.

GET A SEX COACH

Libidos ebb and flow. But remember the more you have sex, the more you’ll want to have it, especially if you’re doing it with someone you care about and it feels good. The opposite is also true, so try not to let a dry spell go on for too long. Mismatched libidos can become a source of great stress for a couple and can strain an otherwise healthy relationship.

Once a couple falls into a set pattern of sexual behaviour, it can be very hard to get out of. Communicate with each other openly and honestly, and then make an appointment for sex coaching early on, if you feel you need extra tools and support to resolve the situation.