Struggling with your partner having a different sex drive is one of the top reasons couples come to see me.

Couples often feel angry, resentful, sad or hurt because of unsatisfying frequency or quality in their sex life.

First, I say to couples that it is usual. I also acknowledge the pain that it causes. The person wanting more sex often feels rejected, unloved or undesired. The person wanting less sex often feels irritated by the sexual demands of their partner, they can feel that their partner is pestering them, they often become avoidant of any touch or kind words for fear that their partner will take the wrong hint that would lead to an expectation of sex.

The result is a relationship that feels distant, cold and, as time passes, more and more hopeless.

There are many things you can do to resolve the situation:

1 . Medical/ hormonal investigation: Low sex drive can be caused by low testosterone. A high sex drive can be the result of high testosterone. Checking your levels can be a good idea to identify if your problem can be resolved medically.

2. Communication factor: Develop a sexual language in your day to day life to maintain a sense of the erotic. For example swap: ‘You look good in those jeans’ with ‘you look sexy in those jeans’. An important rule to follow is: no expectation of sex. It means that both partners can be free to play with a sexual language without the anxiety of having sex.

3. The importance of touch: Following the same rule of no sex expectation: you can be free to learn to touch each other’s body and re-discover it without the anxiety to have sex. Be curious about the areas of your body and your partner’s body that are sensitive and bring pleasure. Even if you get aroused, you can stay with the sensual play without having sex. Take some time to stay sensual, and build up an anticipation for sex. You can also use sex toys to enhance the experience of touch.

Image: Silva Neves

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4. Honest conversation about what you like and don’t like in sex: So often, couples have sex without talking honestly about it. It can lead to some awkwardness and even make people avoid sex. They might be parts of your body that you don’t like to be touched. Or there may be a specific sexual activity that is a no-go for you.

5. The meaning of sex: It has a massive influence on our sex drive and how we have sex. For some, sex means entertainment: it doesn’t matter if it is sex with a loved one or a stranger, it is a pleasurable experience. For other people, sex is a pathway to deep connection, an expression of love. Some people have negative meanings of sex: they believe that gay sex is somewhat wrong or dirty. Having an exploration and knowing what is your meaning of sex will help you understand and navigate your sex life.

6. Setting realistic expectation: This is another honest conversation to have. Your partner will probably not want sex exactly the way you want it. If you want sex five times a day but your partner is satisfied with sex twice a month, you can discuss how to meet half way. Also, good sex is not only a matter of frequency: quality is also important to consider. If you are in a monogamous relationship, you can re-think monogamy together. Or you can stay monogamous and re-think the relationship: is making reasonable compromise on your sex life worth it to keep your loving partner?

7. Getting yourself in the mood: Often people mistakenly think that they have to be ‘in the mood’ for sex. For some people, waiting to be in the mood could mean waiting forever. We don’t need to wait for sexual desire, as long as we can feel sexual arousal. If you’re not in the mood, you can touch your genitals until you become sexual aroused, and by then, you may be more in the mood for sex. Make sure that you only do so when you fully consent to sexual activities. Getting yourself in the mood doesn’t mean that you have to force yourself to have sex when you really don’t want to.

Navigating your sex life with the different libido of your partner is a usual struggle many couples face. It is not the sign of a relationship going wrong. And it can be resolved with many different steps.

Take your time, approach the issue with empathy for yourself and your partner. And be courageous to step into an erotic exploration together. Have fun.

Silva Neves is a psychotherapist, psychosexual relationship psychotherapist and clinical traumatologist. You can visit his official website here, and follow him on Twitter here.

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