How to Cope with Different Libidos
Differing libidos are a normal part of sexual relationships. Some partners have different libidos from the start, while others notice their desires change as the relationship progresses. Mismatched libidos don’t have to mean the end of your relationship, though. As long as you communicate honestly and make an effort to engage in different forms of physical intimacy, both partners can reach a satisfying compromise.
Talking to Your Partner
1.) Discuss your sexual expectations.
Having differing libidos doesn’t have to interfere with your relationship. It does require a lot of open, honest communication, though. Start your conversation with each partner outlining what they want in terms of sex. Ask questions like
●Ideally, how often would you like to have sex?
●What activities do you consider sexually intimate?
●At what point would a lack of sex become a deal-breaker for you?
●What, aside from sex, do you value in our relationship?
2.) Define what’s important for you during sex.
Incompatible libidos are sometimes symptomatic of different goals, mismatched energy levels, or even different understandings of what sex is. Talk to your partner about what you consider to be sex. Then, build on that by talking about what’s important to them during sex.
●For example, when you define sex, does it have to involve physical contact or is sexting an option?
●When you define goals, do both parties need to orgasm or are either one of you happy to play around without reaching a climax?
3.) Ask your partner about why they don’t feel satisfied.
Mismatched libidos are often equated with frequency of sex, but they can also be about not having the right kind of sex. Ask your partner what, specifically, doesn’t seem satisfying about your current sex life. Treat this as a dialogue. It may take some time to uncover root issues, so you need to be an active listener and ask questions.
●For example, a partner with a higher sex drive may not just want more frequent sex but may also be left feeling discouraged and undesirable because their partner frequently rejects them.
●On the other hand, the partner with a lower sex drive may feel like sex is an obligation, which lessens their already lower desire to be intimate with their partner. In other cases, they may have a desire for intimacy, but lack the energy for frequent sex.
4.) Explain your wishes when you and your partner have a conflict.
Instead of simply saying, “Not tonight,” talk your partner through your answer. Let them know what is impeding your desire. Let them know that your rejection isn’t about them as a person, it’s about your libido and your personal wishes.
●For example, let your partner know, “I had a very long day at work today and I feel too tired to fully embrace enthusiastic sex with you tonight. I love those moments where we can both be passionate and uninhibited, and I don’t have the energy for that right now.”
●This helps your partner understand that you not wanting sex isn’t because you aren’t interested in them sexually. This helps them better understand when you may or may not want sex rather than focusing on imaginary issues.
●Your partner giving you an explanation for why they do or don’t want to have sex is a sign of respect, not an obligation. Listen to what they have to say, respect their wishes, thank them for their honesty, and don’t try to change their mind if they’re not in the mood.
Creating More Intimacy
1.) Arouse your partner instead of waiting for their desire to kick in.
Desire can be inconsistent even when partners are very much attracted to each other. Instead of waiting for your partner to get a wave of desire, spend some time participating in activities that arouse both of you. These can create a responsive sense of desire, leading to increased sexual satisfaction.
●Arousing activities can include things like kissing or making out, touching each other in erogenous areas, or describing what you’d like to do to one another. Ask your partner what they find arousing and try to engage them in those activities.
2.) Schedule a regular time for intimacy.
It’s normal to want sex that’s passionate and spontaneous, but that’s not always practical. Set regular times for physical intimacy. The exact frequency will depend on your needs as well as your partner’s, but having a set time for sexual activities can ensure intimacy remains important for both partners.
●Sometimes, couples don’t have mismatched libidos as much as they have mismatched schedules. One partner may feel amorous when the other is tired or busy. Adding sex to the schedule helps both partners prioritize intimacy without stealing time from other activities like work or sleep.
●You can still keep surprise and spontaneity during your scheduled time for intimacy by trying different activities, positions, or combinations in bed.
●Don’t let your scheduled intimacy time force you into something you don’t want to do. If your time comes and you truly do not feel like engaging in sex, let your partner know, “I really don’t think I can do this tonight. Can we try again on Sunday?”
3.) Add additional activities to your list of intimate actions.
Learn to compromise with your partner by creating intimacy outside of sexual intercourse. Actions like kissing, massage, and light touches across the body can create a sense of physical intimacy external to sex.
●Think about activities that you enjoy and that physically excite you and ask your partner to do the same. Write out a list if you want so you can reflect on these later.
●When one partner wants sex and the other doesn’t, offer to compromise using intimate activities from your list. Let your partner know, “I’d be happy to give you a massage that leads to some light touching.”
4.) Try mutual masturbation.
Mutual masturbation allows both partners to be involved in an intimate moment that isn’t strictly about sex. Let the partner with the higher sex drive touch themselves while the lower-drive partner participates in mutual kisses, cuddles, and caresses. Alternatively, you can both bring yourselves to climax while you kiss and/or touch each other’s bodies.
●This creates a physically intimate moment that doesn’t require both parties to engage in reciprocal sex.
●Mutual masturbation is a healthy way to channel sexual frustration into physical intimacy. Around 78% of adults globally report masturbating with some frequency. Allowing your partner to be a part of that creates a sense of both physical and emotional intimacy without engaging in traditional sex.
●You can also add an element of fun and excitement by trying out new sex toys together.
Making Adjustments to Your Relationship
1.) Channel your desire into a hobby or activity.
If you have a higher libido than your partner, consider taking up an activity that will help you release some of that tension and frustration. Exercise can be good to relieve physical stress, and an exercise like dance can even help you express your sensual side. You could also try art, writing, designing games, cooking, hiking, or anything that helps you channel your energy into something productive.
2.) Take a break from sex.
Commit to taking a 1-3 month break from sex. Use this time to focus on building emotional intimacy. Keep regular date nights, have personal conversations, and show your partner you appreciate them. This helps you refocus on your emotional relationship with your partner without worrying about the pressures of sex.
●Take this time to think about your own desire for sex, too.
3.) Consider going to a sex therapist.
Seeing a couple’s therapist that specializes in issues of sex and physical intimacy can help you and your partner learn to communicate your needs. Be open and honest with your therapist about your problems and expectations. That way, they can equip both of you with the right tools and activities to build a healthier sexual relationship moving forward.
●You can talk to your doctor or look online for a specialist in your area. If you currently see a therapist individually, ask them about recommendations for a couple’s therapist.
4.) End the relationship if you can’t settle your differences.
Differing libidos are usually surmountable in a relationship. If you truly don’t feel like you can be satisfied with your partner’s libido, though, consider ending the relationship.
●Think this decision through carefully, as it should be last resort when dealing with incompatible libidos.
●If your need for sex is so excessive that you feel it is interfering with your daily life or putting unreasonable strain on your relationships, talk to your doctor or see a mental health specialist. Excessive sex drive can be a sign of a sexual addiction.