It’s a common issue in relationships. One person wants to have sex more frequently than the other. To enjoy a healthy, happy relationship that’s fulfilling for both partners, each must communicate about their desires and find balance.
It’s also important to realize that in long-term relationships sexual desire will ebb and flow. Learning to navigate the ups and downs of your sex drive and finding sync with your partner is one of the keys to a happy, fulfilling romantic relationship.
Sex Drive Variations Are Common in Relationships
Popular culture would have everyone believe that relationships are only good when both partners are in perfect sync sexually. Furthermore, that perfect sync usually involves frequent and consistently fulfilling sexual encounters.
Real life is rarely this picture-perfect. And considering everything else in our lives – family, friends, work, other interests – it wouldn’t be ideal for two people to spend the majority of their time indefinitely obsessed with having sex. So while our sex drive is a strong instinctual part of us – it is different for every person and it changes often over time – so this is an important reset of our expectations.
Couples can have a healthy, fulfilling relationship when they find a balance and are both satisfied with the number, quality, and type of sexual encounters they share.
Unfortunately, finding this balance takes open conversation and effort for most couples. This is especially true for those that are together in a long term relationship.
When things fall out of balance and you want more or different types of sex than your partner or vice versa, the discrepancy puts pressure on the relationship in and out of the bedroom.
According to clinical sexologist Sunny Rodgers, sexual discrepancy is very common. However, it must be addressed if both partners want to keep the relationship healthy and on track. If either person is uncomfortable addressing the issue or working to resolve it, it can lead to issues with trust, rejection, guilt, or resentment.
Says Rodgers, “One partner will eventually feel pressured to have sex, while the other will become frustrated.” She explains this is not the foundation on which to build a healthy relationship.
It’s also important for people to acknowledge that level of sexual desire is not based on either partner’s gender.
Although we’ve been led to believe that men want more sex than women, this isn’t always the case. Sexual desire varies from individual to individual, regardless of gender. Rodgers has found that it’s often the female in the relationship that craves sex more often. There are also imbalances in relationships in which both parties are of the same gender. Libido varies based on the individual and their circumstances at any given time.
What Should You Do If Your Sex Drive Varies from Your Partner?
In some cases, you won’t need to do anything besides have an honest and open conversation about the topic. If you or your partner is going through a stressful time at work or just not feeling the best, talk about it and agree that you’ll revisit the issue in a few days or weeks. In many cases, couples that were once in sync naturally fall back into a satisfying rhythm and the issue resolves itself.
If the problem is ongoing, you’ll need to take a more assertive approach.
Start by ruling out any medical issues that could be interfering with your sex drive. In some cases, illnesses, medications, stress, and other health issues trigger a change in sex drive.
Once you know you’re both healthy and there’s no medical issue interfering with your desire for sex, address potential issues in your relationship. For some people, problems in the bedroom are rooted outside of the bedroom and in other areas of the relationship.
Rodgers explains that sexual discrepancy is often a matter of overall relationship dissatisfaction. If either of you is dissatisfied with your sex life, you’ll need to discuss more than your sexuality. Explains Rodgers, “Step back and look at your relationship: What are possible reasons your libido or your partner’s libido is low, or high? And, most importantly, where do both of you see your partnership going, and what needs to happen to make that a reality?”
Sometimes, a lack of sexual synchronicity is caused by external factors in life. Things that have nothing to do with sex zap your or your partner’s sexual energy. If this is a factor, you’ll need to actively make closeness a priority. For most couples closeness precedes sex – so work on becoming closer with your partner first. And yes, there are some couples who become close during and after sex – it their way of connecting emotionally with each other.
If you or your partner’s lack of libido is due to work or other family obligations, it might be a good idea to schedule a get-away that’s just the two of you without any distractions. You’ll also want to make time for sex on an ongoing basis.
However, it’s important not to make this time completely focused on sex. If one of you is dealing with pressure and stress in other areas of life, jumping right into sex just because you’ve carved out some time to do so probably isn’t going to work. Most people can’t just flip a switch and suddenly be ready to have sex. It’s best to go into this time together with an open mind. You might want to think of it as intimate time or partner-focused time. Both of you can agree that if it feels right to have sex, great, but the main goal is having undivided quality time together without interruptions or distractions.
If you’ve tried to get back on track sexually with your partner but nothing is working, it’s a good idea to reach out to a counselor. If you’re both committed to the relationship and you want to make it work, working with an expert can help.