Everyone’s sex drive is unique to them.
In a relationship, each partner’s sex drive plays a role in how often you have sex, and what kind of sex you have.
At the beginning of your relationship, it may seem like you and your partner’s sex drives couldn’t be more aligned, but as time goes on, you may begin to notice a change. Maybe you want to have horizontal parties every hour, but your partner is totally content sticking to a couple times a week, or vice versa. If one partner has a higher sex drive than the other, how do you find common ground? And how do you ensure that if your sex drive has decreased, your partner doesn’t feel undesired or rejected?
Differences in sex drive are normal. If you have a higher sex drive than your partner, that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you or that there’s something wrong with them, for that matter. It just happens. “Every couple experiences differentials in desire at some point in their relationship, as each of our appetites for sex [are] as individual as our fingerprints,” Dr. Jessica O’Reilly, host of the @SexWithDrJess podcast says. “It would be ludicrous to attempt to eat the same meals, in the same quantity, at the exact same time as another person every day for the rest of your life. Similarly, you cannot expect to share a perfect sex life with one person in a corresponding fashion without conflict and compromise. Even if your levels of desire are alike, they may peak at different times.”
The first step in finding common ground with your partner when you have different sex drives is acknowledging that having a higher one versus having a lower one is not a matter of right or wrong. “Desiring sex often does not make you a pervert, and desiring little or no sex does not make you a prude,” Dr. Jess points out. “The likelihood of meeting exactly at the halfway point is low and pressuring your lover to do so will only be counterproductive.”
So, what can you do to solve the problem or at least come to some kind of agreement or compromise about your opposite sex drives? “First, you need to determine just how far off you are. Oftentimes we make inaccurate assumptions about how often our partners want to have sex,” Dr. Jess explains. If you have a higher sex drive, you may underestimate your partner’s desire and feel like their answer is always no. But on the other hand, if you have a lower sex drive, you may overestimate their desire and feel like they always want sex, she explains.
Dr. Jess suggests that you and bae write down how often you want to have sex and how often you think your partner wants to have sex on a piece of paper. Exchange papers, discuss your numbers, and try to find a happy medium between both of your wants.
“Remember that there is no ideal number that works universally for everyone,” she says. “It’s not only the responsibility of the person with lower sex drive to increase their desire. The partner with higher sex drive needs to make changes as well.”
Unfortunately, sometimes mismatched sex drives can be the result of an underlying issue — not just a loss of libido — and it’s important to figure out what that issue could be. “If the mismatch in sex drives is related to relationship dissatisfaction outside of the bedroom, this is the first thing that should be resolved before tackling sexual issues,” Courtney Cleman, relationship and sex expert and founder of The V. Club, says. Talking to your partner and figuring out if there’s more to their lowered sex drive is important. If there’s not some underlying issue, then the two of you can proceed with finding common sexual ground. Communication is indeed key, my friends.
When trying to figure out how to approach the subject, Cleman recommends talking about how wanting more or less sex from your partner than they do makes you feel.
“Focus on your feelings and desires, and avoid blaming, shaming, or critiquing,” she advises. “Ask them about how they feel about the frequency of sex in your relationship and find out what they [think.]” Once you’ve decided you want to talk about it, it may be best to do it outside of the bedroom, when both you and your partner are in a good mood and relaxed. “The sandwich approach can be very helpful here — start by saying something positive about your sex life and/or relationship, mention how you would like for some things to be different (e.g., ‘I would like to have sex more often.’), then close by saying something positive about the relationship again,” she says.
If you’ve noticed you’re the one who often initiates sex, and your partner doesn’t always reciprocate, then you could have a case of higher sex drive versus lower sex drive, and that’s OK. It doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed or that you’re never going to have sex again. It might just mean you have different sex drives. Whatever the case, have a conversation.
Remember: According to Dr. Jess, our levels of desire change with time. So, even if you and your partner’s libidos were incredibly aligned in the beginning, it’s normal for that to change as time goes on. Don’t fret, and don’t try to force bae to match your sex drive, high or low. “Putting pressure on yourself or your sweetheart will only detract from sex, pleasure, and a happy relationship,” Dr. Jess says.