Relationships are complex. But throw in a mix of low and high sex drives and it can become downright challenging. Having mismatched sex drives is one of the most common relationship problems couples face. In fact, data suggests that a third of all couples have serious issues with libidos that simply don’t sync.
One partner is horny and wants sex all the time, while the other wants less and may appear disinterested. Either side can end up dissatisfied or even hurt if they do not understand the other ones’ motives. One couple we heard from broke up over this issue. She felt angry that her boyfriend didn’t want to be intimate with her, and frustrated because she felt he held all the power. He felt disgruntled that she would ask this of him when he wasn’t interested and upset because he was being expected to be someone he was not.
If you find wanting more or less from your partner, you are not alone. But there are ways you can level the playing field. Here are some of the ways to bridge the gap and mend mismatched sex drives:
Take it From the Top
Air it Out
From a female perspective, affectionate touching without the expectation of sex can be a great way to initiate intimacy. Most women say they have a strong need for affection without the sexual overtones and get annoyed when every touch becomes a means of foreplay. If this sounds familiar, try some cuddling, hand holding, or a gentle kiss and stop there. When you start doing things that touch her soul, she will be more inclined to do things that touch your body.
Play Well with Others
Although masturbation isn’t a substitute for the thrill and sensuality of skin-on-skin partner sex, it can help take the edge off and fill natural gaps in libido. Plus, it’s an opportunity to safely explore your own fantasies. The more sexually aware you are, the better bedroom partner you become. So, why not masturbate together? One relationship expert suggests, “Inclusion brings intimacy and prevents the difference in desire from being destructive.” Just because you have less interest in sex with your partner doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t enjoy your own sexuality. Sometimes masturbation can provide just the right kind of sexual jumpstart.
Strike While the Iron is Hot
Testosterone levels rise and fall at different times, and there may be times when your partner is more receptive. In many men, testosterone surges in the early morning, around 7 or 8 A.M. If you’re a woman whose partner isn’t as interested, give yourself an extra push in the morning to see if your partner is “up” yet. On the flip side, if you’re a man, it’s important to know your partner’s hormonal patterns too. It may be later in the evening, in the middle of her menstrual cycle, or closer to the end of the month. Ask her about the times when she feels an elevated sex drive.
It takes more than just constructive communication to get into the mood. It takes the biggest sex organ you have—the brain! For partners that are slow to warm up and less receptive to the idea of having sex, try some erotic inspiration like sharing fantasies, shopping for sex toys together, or watching x-rated films. This not only boosts the hormone levels but can elevate the self-esteem too.
Split the Difference
To find balance and bring harmony into the relationship, sometimes we have “take one for the team.” In other words, compromise. Alternate between doing what the higher-libido partner wants, doing what the lower-libido partner wants. A good way to do this is to do something in between, such as bringing one partner to orgasm without involving the other partner in full-blown sex. For instance, if your partner is willing to have sex twice a week, but you prefer three times, perhaps a once-a-week sacrifice will go a long way toward making things healthy within your relationship—and once you two are in a good place, your partner may be more inclined to participate in a steamy masturbation session or other intimate encounters more frequently.
Talk to a Pro
When you are deep into a romantic and sexual relationship, it can be hard to figure out how to work through your sex drive issues. The great news is that you don’t have to work through it alone. Many are reluctant to get professional help from a sex therapist or couples counselor, but an outside perspective can actually take a lot of the pressure off. Sex invariably makes it difficult to wade through our emotions, so allowing a trained third-party to offer guidance may be more beneficial than you think.1