If you find yourself wanting more (or less) sex than your partner, you’re not alone. (Photo: Getty Images)
It’s incredibly common, but not exactly oft-discussed: wanting more — or less — sex than your partner.
Maybe you both started out in the relationship with differing libidos; maybe it seemed like you were both on the same “page” at the beginning, but then you or your partner’s interest in sex started to wane once the honeymoon stage wore off. Maybe a life event seems to have put a damper on your, or your partner’s, sex drive. No matter the reason, having a differing sex drive from your partner is “absolutely common,” says Karen Ruskin, PsyD, LMFT, clinical fellow with the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and author of Dr. Karen’s Marriage Manual.
“It is nothing to be afraid of or shocked by, [nor should you] think there’s something wrong with you or think that you’re incompatible just because there appears to be a mismatch” in sex drive, Ruskin tells Yahoo Health. “It’s normal to have a situation where one person’s libido is higher and the other is lower. Two people coming together don’t always have the same exact libido.”
While relationship or intimacy problems could be the root of differing libidos, many times physiological, environmental, or non-relationship emotional factors are be the cause. “Emotional factors could include a life stage of development with regard to your job, or it could do with having children,” Ruskin explains. Or it could be a stressor — like moving into a new home, or looking for a new job — or even a physical or medical factor. (Many medications can lower libido.)
For some people, these could all lead to less interest in sex — but conversely, they could also lead to an increase in interest in sex. “It could be an escape [from these life stressors], and/or it could be a way to connect with your mate if you’re longing for more and need connection,” she says.
If you and your partner are experiencing mismatched libidos, it’s important to address it — but not in the very moment where one person has requested and the other has rebuffed, says psychiatrist Gail Saltz, MD, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital and psychoanalyst with the New York Psychoanalytic Institute.
“That’s when you feel most vulnerable, and your partner will be clammed up and not responding to you,” she tells Yahoo Health. Instead, "pick another time, where no one’s asking and no one’s denying.”
As for the actual conversation, be up-front with each other that the discrepancy in sex drive is happening, and try to understand where the other person is coming from. “They may feel, ‘You’re suddenly turned off by me,’ and that may not be the case — it may just be like, ‘I don’t feel like it,’” Saltz says. “Do a little census of yourselves in the different places you’re coming from. If he’s like, ‘I’d really like to every day, once a day is good for me,’ and she’s like, ‘if I had it once a week, that’s good for me, then the question is: Can you come up with some sort of compromise?”
That compromise could entail having sex two to three times a week instead of every day or just once a week, or it could involve showing and engaging in intimacy aside from intercourse, Saltz says.
Also use the conversation about sex drive differences as an opportunity to talk about what you wish your partner would do differently or more of. And don’t be afraid to talk about injecting some “newness” into your sex life — sometimes that’s all it takes to make things more exciting for both parties. “Sometimes you’ve gotten into such a rut, with exactly the same thing, that it doesn’t help lift the libido of the person who has less and it’s not as satisfying for the person who wants it all the time,” Saltz says. “So newness helps both of them.”
What’s it really like to want more (or less) than your partner? We got some no-holds-barred confessions from Whisper, the free app that allows users to share their secrets anonymously. Check them out below:
For more confessions about sex and relationships, check out Whisper.
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