Couples TherapyDanica MitchellSex Therapy

Let’s Talk About Sex: Navigating Mis-Matched Sexual Desire

By March 2, 2022 March 23rd, 2022 No Comments

Desire DiscrepancyOne of the most common complaints couples have is that their “libidos don’t match”. Most couples don’t start this way, but instead, one day realize that sex hasn’t quite been as easy to initiate or there have been more rejections. Slowly, this may result in almost no sex at all. While desire discrepancy (that’s the technical term) can show up in different ways, at the end of the day it’s a distressing problem to have to face and often leaves people questioning if they’re in the right relationship at all.

The good news is that finding yourself out of sync sexually with a partner is normal. If you are in a relationship long enough, you are bound to find yourself facing this. That’s ok. Sex is one of the few areas in life we become very rigid about. We expect sex with a partner to always be good or else it’s a reflection on ourselves or the relationship. However, that’s not necessarily the case. Imagine if we never let ourselves have lulls in our careers, struggle during school, or lose contact with an old friend. When we expect things to go unchanged we will inevitably find disappointment. That’s just not the way life is.

If you have found that your libidos aren’t matching up right now, the first thing you need to do is talk to your partner about it. Do your best to bring this up in a way that is non-judgemental and doesn’t blame anyone. The goal is to try and figure out what is going on. Libido is very fickle and a lot of things can influence it. Perhaps a new work schedule has you exhausted at the end of the day when you’d usually have sex, or your toddler has been crawling all over you all day and you are “touched out”. Perhaps your bodies have changed and you aren’t feeling as confident, or you stopped going on dates. When you start to narrow down what’s getting in the way, you can start to build a road map to fixing it.

Some things that may help once you’ve opened Pandora’s box and are ready to do something about it:

  • Redefine sex – Sex is so much more than penetration. Take some time to talk about all the things around sex that you like. When you understand sex beyond penetration, your sex life becomes a lot more flexible and creative. If you don’t have energy for penetration, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t many sexual options you or your partner may be up for.
  • Take it slow – If it’s been a minute since you’ve had sex, jumping all the way to penetration may feel like a lot of pressure. Take your time and “round the bases”. Agree to what types of sex you are open to and have fun exploring just a few acts without feeling you have to do more.
  • Remember the beginning – While we can’t quite recreate the “honeymoon stage” it’s important to remember what attracted you to one another in the first place. Have you stopped doing those things you did in the beginning? Are you only talking about work and kids now? Try doing what you did early on to bring back some of the magic.
  • Utilize responsive desire – Most of the time when we think of libido we think of “spontaneous desire” which is when we have sexual desire randomly. Responsive desire is very common and is when you start a sexual or erotic act and then you feel the desire for sex. If someone wants to initiate, start small and see if your body responds and opens you up to more.
  • Find your motives for sex – Sex satisfies more than just physical needs. Often we are trying to get our psychological needs met too. Connect with why you want to have sex beyond the physical and share that with your partner. Do you want to feel wanted, powerful, or close? Honing in on psychological motives for sex may increase your desire to please and be pleased.
  • Make sure to both initiate – Often there is one partner who is the “primary initiator” (usually the person with the higher spontaneous libido). This person often holds the responsibility to initiate sex but also faces a lot more rejection. Make a plan to have both partners initiate so that it’s not one person’s sole responsibility.
  • Remember, libido is morally neutral – Having a high or low libido doesn’t make you a good or bad person. It doesn’t make you better or worse than someone else. When libidos don’t match in a partnership, it’s important to not criticize someone for how their body is, especially when more often than not it’s out of their control. Stay positive and work together to bridge the desire discrepancy gap.

While it may feel like a daunting task to face, working through mismatched libidos ultimately can bring you and your partner closer together, and will very likely create a much more fulfilling sex life that can ride the waves of life. And, if you ever find yourselves struggling, a sex therapist is happy to help. Contact us today for a complimentary 15 minute phone consultation.