Are you wanting more sex than your partner and asking what should you do without leaving the relationship? Today I’m going to talk about this pretty common phenomena of mismatched libidos, or one partner wanting more sex than the other, some background on it, and some strategies of how you might navigate this pretty common reality.
Many of you either yourself are experiencing this now or definitely know other couples where they’re out of sync as far as one partner wanting more sex than the others. This is often called mismatched libidos or maybe you’ve heard of sexless marriages or sexless relationships. There’s a lot of assumptions. One, that this happens more for men, that men are sex starved and always wanting more sex than women. The reality is that times are a changing. Women and men are both saying that they are wanting more sex than their partner, and more women are actually voicing this because now it’s become more and more acceptable for women to embrace their sexuality and say, “Actually, hey, no. I want sex and I need it.”
It is inevitable throughout a long term relationship that at some point or another, there’s going to be mismatched libidos. There’s going to be one person in that partnership that wants sex more than the other. If there’s anything you take home from this, it’s knowing it’s normal. It’s going to happen if you’re having a long term relationship, that you may want more sex than your partner or you may have mismatched libidos.
Decreased libido certainly has a lot of causes. It happens with: stress, when we get too overworked or if there’s a chronic stressor; as we age; .as our hormones change; when we get sick with a chronic illness like cancer or cardiac disease. Decreased libido is one of the first things to happen, and sex generally gets put to the side in relationships. It is often associated with some problems they’re perceiving in their relationship, whether that be their own individual problems that are impacting their relationship or tensions within the relationship, whether that be fighting often or problems navigating child care or co-parenting or finances, all the typical marital or relationship stressors that are out there.
These stressors are generally going to impact sexual desire, and we’re going to see a decrease in trying to have sex or engage in sexual activity with our partners. Bit by bit, what you see is that that connection, that intimate connection, amongst long term partners begins to erode. Instead of being partners, lovers, and best friends, what you see is generally that lover part gets tossed to the side.
Now what do you do about it?
First and foremost, I recommend all my clients look in before you look out. Oftentimes, when we feel distressed, particularly about something so important such as our sexuality or our relationships, we tend to look at problems in the relationships or partners in our partner. We tend to externalize those. I encourage clients to look inward. Try to understand your feelings a bit more. Try to gain some clarity about why and how you’re distressed by this. You are feeling this mismatch, and it’s causing you to stress. Second, try to look at your thoughts. What are you thinking about it? Is it making you feel guilty, that if you don’t want as much sex as your partner, or you’re wanting more, do you feel guilt or shame or frustration, anger, resentment around this? Then look at how you’ve been reacting. What are the things that you typically do with your partner or avoid your partner? What are some of the strategies or coping reactions that you have and how you feel about them? Are you happy with them? Are they effective? Start really looking at yourself, your thoughts and your reactions around this, so that as you heighten your awareness, you gain clarity of what it really is you need or desire in your relationship.
Once you’ve experienced and had gained more clarity in where you’re at, next I recommend talking to your partner. This may be in an ongoing relationship or a marriage, but it also can be early stages of dating. Talk to your partner about how you feel, about where you’re at regarding this mismatch, and that it’s concerning to you. You don’t have to go all into it all the first time, but you can bit by bit begin to talk with your partner about your concerns so that, first and foremost, you see where they’re at. A big common mistake here is that we enter what I call assumption junction, where we place a lot of assumptions on our partners and on our relationship. An example is oftentimes when individuals will want more sex than their partner, they’ll look at their relationship and say, “Oh, we’ve just been distant. We have a sexless marriage, and my partner’s just as unhappy as I am. My partner would probably be happy dating someone else or being in another marriage, but I don’t know.”
Oftentimes, when we have those assumptions, we react accordingly. Perhaps we try to focus more on other relationships or filling in that space that maybe we’re missing in our current relationship with other activities which essentially may not necessarily fix that void, but are self-soothing exercises in the moment. There’s nothing wrong with that, but again, the main concern is how is that impacting the way you feel, as well as how does that impact your relationship. Talking with your partner and opening that door of communication so that you can understand where your partner is at. No matter how they might react, what you can always do is assert how you feel, what your desires are, if you’re wanting more or less sexual encounters or intimacy in your relationship.
Once you’ve actually talked to your partner, this may sound completely contradictory, but what I also recommend is taking the pressure off of sex and actually just really focusing on re-establishing some intimacy. That can be by just spending time with one another, focusing on maybe more the relaxation part and making each other feel better, giving each other mutual messages, and then, bit by bit, focusing on foreplay, but not putting as much pressure on intercourse because as you know, intercourse involves some arousal, whether it be for a woman or a man. When our sex drive is low, arousal is not there. Taking the pressure off of needing to perform, but really focusing on heightening that intimacy and that connection in your relationship.
Lastly, once you actually have gone through and tried these different things, I also recommend that couples schedule time for intimacy. Again, that doesn’t need to be sexual intercourse, but scheduling time where you are going to either talk about your sexual desires and needs or concerns, play around and be playful with each other, so that you can begin to reestablish and reconnect your sexuality with your partner. Again, early on in relationships, if you begin to speak up for what you want, then what you’ve done is you’ve set the tone and what’s normal in your relationship for how you actually want your sexual needs met.
I hope all of these strategies were helpful. If they were, feel free to like, share, or send some comments about the video and subscribe to my YouTube channel. You can also find me on Facebook at Psychotherapy Without Borders. Feel free to check out my site to see how we might work together so you can actually navigate some of these concerns if you do need some help at www.drcatalinalawsin.com. Cheers!