- in Intimacy
How To Cope With Different Libidos – 5 Powerfully Effective Tips on What To Do When Your Libidos Don’t Match
Don’t worry, you aren’t crazy or broken.
If you want sex more often or less often than your partner, it may just be a matter of adaption. Many things can influence your drive… Hormones, Stress, Bloat, etc. Research has shown that women even prefer different kinds of men during different times of the month. Did you know that?
Research was done on female cycles and male/female attraction, women who are ovulating tend to flirt more with masculine men and crave sex more. FYI… women on a hormonal birth control don’t exhibit these changes.
If you have a different sex drive than your partner, don’t fear. The relationship isn’t doomed.
Just keep some things in mind…
1. Communicate if you want more. Your partner may be holding back because things are new!
2. Focus on what works. If a position or a toy is tried and true for you, let him know.
3. He can’t read your mind. Talk about sex. If he’s the right guy, he will want to know!
4. Things change. Just because everything was voom, voom in the beginning, doesn’t mean it lasts… not without creativity and connection.
5. Sometimes it is just about connecting. Men tend to feel more hurt when “rejected” because they are using sex to feel connected, not just for the act.
Most importantly, sex and love are different.
Don’t mistake sex and lust for love. If you feel conflicted, help is available. Reach out to a dating or relationship therapist for support. This is complicated. You aren’t alone.
Teresa Petersen Mendoza, MS, LMFT – www.familysosinc.com
How many arguments have you and your partner had about conflicting desires?
Whether those differences are about affection, sex, vacations, social engagements, material possessions, or just plain alone time, you have probably wasted many hours trying to negotiate your unequal appetites.
And, even when you’ve agreed to sharing those resources, you’ve probably ended up feeling guilty when you’ve gotten your way, or deprived when you haven’t.
You aren’t alone. Differences in desire are far more common than many intimate partners realize.
New lovers try so hard to please each other that they aren’t as likely to experiences them early in their relationship. But, as their relationship matures, the differences in what they each want from each other begin to emerge. The way a couple processes their disparate needs can make or break a relationship.
Unequal appetites are not always bad. They can also be the spice of a relationship.
When they are explored and supported, both partners can learn more about themselves and what priorities help them grow and thrive. As they achieve each new resolution, they become more able to handle future conflicts.
When a couple recognizes that some of their wants or needs may be mutually exclusive, they must work together to try to support each other without giving up too much of what may be important. The way each partner grants, negotiates, postpones, or rejects those individual desires can foretell whether their relationship will survive, thrive, or end.
Here are two different potential dialogues that might occur as a couple faces a conflict in desire.
Anne and Ed – Lack of Resolution
Anne: (Trying to sound more casual than she feels,) “Honey, I need to talk to you about something that’s bothering me.”
Ed: “What’s up?”
Anne: (Scared but determined,) “I need more affection from you. I know you don’t need it like I do but I’m really lonely. I’m not just talking about sex. I just want to be close to you when we’re doing something together.”
Ed: (Getting defensive,) “Look, we’ve had this conversation before. I’ve told you over and over that I get antsy when you constantly want me to be next to you. You know how I slept with my two brothers in the same bed and always ended up on the floor just to get some privacy. It was worth it. I can’t sleep when you’re always pawing at me. I pay plenty of attention to you. I just don’t like touching unless we’re having sex. You knew how I was when we got together. What’s the deal about changing me now?”
Anne: (Retreating emotionally,) “I’m sorry. I just thought we were getting along a little better and maybe you could reconsider. I don’t want to force you to be someone you’re not. I’m just missing you.”
Ed: (Softening a little but holding to his position,) “I’m sorry, honey. You just can’t expect more. I’m just that kind of guy and I don’t want to feel guilty just because I’m not what you want.”
Their interaction has ended in a stalemate.
Anne now believes that her needs are inappropriate and Ed is satisfied that his excuses are totally justified. Anne will continue to bury her disappointment and feel uncared for. Over time, she will be less motivated to give Ed what he wants. This situation does not predict a good outcome.
Anne and Ed – Successful Resolution
Anne: (Trying to sound more casual than she feels but determined to be heard,) “Ed, could we talk a few minutes. I’ve got something on my mind. It’s not a ten or anything but it’s important to me.”
Ed: (Available and interested,) “Sure, honey. What’s up?”
Anne: “I’ve been feeling a little neglected lately. Our sex is great, but I need some reassuring affection in between. I was so used to more cuddling as a child, and I want to feel closer to you that way. I know it’s harder for you than it is for me, but I’d really appreciate it if we could work something out.”
Ed: (A little uncomfortable but realizes the reasonableness of her request,) “Yeah. I just don’t need that like you do. You wouldn’t want to force me to do something is uncomfortable to me, would you?”
Anne: (Feeling manipulated and unwilling to give up,) “You’re trying to make me feel guilty for wanting something that is totally reasonable. That’s not fair. You could be more affectionate just to make me happy. You sure don’t have any trouble when we’re making love.”
Ed: (Feeling cornered,) “That’s hitting below the belt. (He looks at her, feigning sadness but eyes twinkling. They both start laughing.) Okay, baby, you have every right to feel closer to me in the way that it works for you. I’m probably just being my self-centered self. When we both want something different, I can usually count on you to take care of me instead of yourself. I have no right to blame you for what you want just to get my way.”
Anne: (Feeling saner and more valued,) “Your willingness to listen means a lot, Ed. I know that both of our needs are okay. We just need to find a way to make this work better.”
Ed: (Pulls her towards him, “I love you and I don’t want you to feel lonely.”
This interaction ends in hope. Anne and Ed might have to renegotiate this process many times but neither feels that his or her needs are wrong or embarrassing, just different and unequal.
Too often, well-meaning partners can’t get to resolution, especially when asked to give when their own needs are strong.
Instead of moving to kind negotiation without judgment or invalidation, they may feel threatened instead. That can lead to blame or defensiveness.
Here are some examples of counter-productive statements and the underlying feelings that would have elicited a better response:
“You always want to spend everything we have. We need to put away more money.”
Underlying feeling: “I’m scared of your living so much in the moment and I’m afraid about not having enough for the future.”
“You work too much. That’s all you care about.”
Underlying feeling: “I’m afraid you care more about your work than what I need from you.”
“You always want to go out with other people, never just with me alone. Your social needs are over the top. I think you’re afraid of real intimacy.”
Underlying feeling: “I wish you wanted to spend more time with me alone.”
“You’re way too involved with the kids. They don’t need that much mothering.”
Underlying feeling: “I want more of your time without feeling like a bad parent.”
“The way you are with that dog, I wish I had fur. Maybe you’d pay more attention to me.”
Underlying feeling: “I know you can love and nurture something. Why isn’t it me?”
“You always have time for anything you want to do. You need to look at how selfish you are.”
Underlying feeling: “I wish that you wanted to make me a higher priority.”
All couples face conflicting needs and unequal appetites. They may have some wonderful “sweet spots” of easy agreement, but they must learn how to fairly allocate resources. How caring partners bargain for fairness tells a lot about who they are and the way they feel about each other.
Here are some helpful guidelines:
When you understand that you and your partner are facing unequal desires, try the following steps to negotiate the best outcome:
1. State what you need, and why, and how important it is to you.
2. Talk about your underlying feelings.
3. Stay in the present and desire for the future. Don’t express disappointments or disillusionments from the past.
4. Don’t invalidate your partner’s desires even if he or she doesn’t feel the same.
5. Try to find a way for both of you to get what you need, even if it has to happen at different times.
6. Try to agree upon the best use of the resources you share to decide on which of your desires is most important to grant at any one time.
7. Practice good intent. Just telling a partner that his or her desire is valid can go a long ways even if you cannot grant it.
8. Be willing to bargain for exchange of resources in the present or in the future.
9. Be as fair as you can.
If, no matter how much you’ve tried, you can’t grant your partner his or her wish, try some of these loving responses to help ease the disappointment.
“I wish I could give you everything you want.”
“I always want you to ask, even if I can’t do it all.”
“I’m sad when you feel deprived.”
“I love giving you what you need when I can.”
“Thank you for caring even when you can’t agree with me.”
“I appreciate your willingness to listen and to compromise.”
“I know you tuck these things away and remember to give them to me when you can.”
“I’m grateful that you care about what is important to me.”
Just opening your hearts to each other will be healing in and of itself.
If you can go through these processes with kindness and support, regardless of what you are able to resolve, you’ll do better resolving any unequal appetite you are faced with in the future.
Dr. Randi Gunther – www.randigunther.com
It can depend on if you are in a new or long-term committed relationship to no relationship at all.
Typically, in a new relationship, if there is chemistry, the sex drive is frequent as it is all new and you are getting to know one another. You have an interest in developing a strong and gratifying sexual relationship.
If you are in a long-term committed relationship, this will require some change and compromise as one of you may feel the desire for sex more than the other.
It largely depends on what’s happening in your life. There will be peaks and valleys, negotiation, and know that this is normal with everyone. What is important is that you are aware and you communicate with your partner how you feel while you honor and respect one another. Be realistic with your expectations and communicate your wants and needs.
You might want to ask yourself what you think might be the causes of differences in your own sexual desire.
What is going on in your life that makes you feel one way or another. We are whole in mind, body, spirit and emotions, so check in with yourself and ask if you are feeling whole, or are you operating on just one or two levels?
This can make a difference as the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts. This can be revealing and give you some direction on how to function with your sexuality.
Know that you can work through your sexual desires with a partner, therapist, self-help books and your own awareness.
Connie Clancy Fisher, ED.D. – www.drconstance.com
Intimacy makes your relationship more fulfilling and satisfying.
If your intimate moments are rushed or forced, it doesn’t have the same impact as a more casual or spontaneous connection. Furthermore, if one partner has a stronger sexual drive and the demands on the other are high, you know there is going to be some frustration and misunderstandings that could lead to huge conflicts and even a breakup.
So what do you do?
1. Examine your expectations (and he should too).
The relationship you have with your partner is special. Your partner is there to grow with you and to share in your life. However, if you expect too much from him or put too high an expectation on his role, you are setting yourself up for failure. In other words, don’t rely on a fantasy to fulfill what you desire.
So, ask yourself, “Am I expecting to have sex too often, given we both work and come home tired? Can we compromise on this so we feel it’s a win-win situation?”
When you know where your partner is coming from, you will be less likely to misinterpret his actions or behaviors and, therefore, not be disappointed.
2. Explore professional options.
Sometimes one’s sex drive is related to hormonal imbalances or other medical conditions. Your medical doctor can prescribe medication to create the balance you need.
Otherwise, there could be deeper psychological reasons you or your partner’s sex drive is low (high) and a mental health professional may be able to uncover the underlying causes. Either way, you are doing something to improve your relationship once again.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
To understand differences in sex drives first you need to understand how desire is shaped.
Typically people have one of two road maps to sexual intimacy: physical or emotional. If you are an emotional person you need to have emotional intimacy first before you want physical intimacy.
This means that if you are fighting with your partner or feel disconnected you will not desire sexual intimacy.
If you are a physical intimacy person you feel more emotionally connected when physical intimacy is present.
This translates into feeling disconnected when sexual intimacy is not there. For the physical person the act of sex is about emotional connection and not just the physical act.
What I often see is the dichotomy of the emotional and physical person present in a relationship. This can result in difficulties in meeting both individual’s sexual needs.
First you must understand that each partner reaches desire in a different way.
Once this is understood you can open up the opportunity of learning how to meet each other’s needs.
To create more desire you need to first figure out what pathway you follow. Then you need to understand your partner’s pathway.
I have highlighted below a few questions to illuminate the pathways:
– Do you desire physical closeness after quality time? (Emotional Path)
– Do you feel more connected after sexual intimacy? (Physical Path)
– Do you avoid touch when you are frustrated with your partner? (Emotional Path)
– Do you feel disconnected when physical closeness is absent? (Physical Path)
Once you understand how desire works in both of you, it is important to move the focus of sexually intimacy.
It is a way to strengthen your emotional bond instead of the physical act of intercourse. When we view sexuality as the vulnerability of connection it can create more closeness. I encourage you to focus on this dichotomy to create a more passionate sexual relationship.
Lyndsey Fraser, MA, LMFT – www.relationalconnections.com