Compromising Positions

A sex ed blog with more

Desire Discrepancy

Lots of partners have different libido levels. This is a common issue for lots of people and something that partners face at different points in their relationship. I’ve heard a lot of people tout the virtues of having a sexual partner whose desires line up with yours, along with various suggestions saying to end a relationship if drives do not line up or be non-monogamous. Part of me says yes – that makes sense because sex is important. The other part says there’s a lot more to healthy relationships than sex. In this post I’d like to discuss ways to cope with desire discrepancy within a relationship, and be very clear that while we’ve been taught that males want to bone constantly, that’s just not always the case.

Moreover, desires/interests and libido are two very different things. Libido is how often you want to experience sexual activity; most commonly – how often do you want to achieve an orgasm? Desires, or interests, are what kinds of things turn us on and what we are into. I would suggest that shared interests are more important than libido levels. If you are with someone who is not willing to do the things that you want to do, I would say that is a more complicated and/or significant issue than simply wanting to do those same things more or less frequently. Both of these can be tricky to discuss. Having good communication within a partnership and knowing what it is you want to say and how to approach it are very important.

If you’re a person with lower libido than a partner, you could try the following:

  • Initiate when you are feeling it
  • Communicate your wants and needs e.g. need to have intercourse once/month, want to have intercourse twice/month
  • Suggest other sexual or intimate acts that you would be interested in when approached. Who knows, these acts may just get you in the mood
  • Try not to feel guilty
  • Remember: you’re not rejecting the person, simply an act at a specific moment
  • Consider an open relationship
  • Show your affection in other ways
  • Encourage a partner (or do it yourself) to put alarms in your calendar or phone to remind you to do things you may not think of. For example: Tuesday, 7pm, hold partner while they are cooking dinner; Thursday, 9pm, offer to give partner a short massage; Saturday, 10am, kiss partner on forehead on their way to shower
  • Learn to turn down advances in ways that do not spurn a partner

If you are a person with higher libido than a partner, you could try the following:

  • Masturbate
  • Communicate your wants and needs e.g. need to have intercourse 3 times/month, want to have intercourse 5 times/week
  • Consider an open relationship
  • Show non-sexual affection and appreciation
  • Be patient
  • Try not to make a partner or yourself feel guilty or rejected for your libido
  • Ask questions to better understand your partner rather than jumping to conclusions; it’s likely that a partner finds you attractive and desirable but is simply not interested in an orgasm at the moment
  • Recognize that any number of things can happen in a day or week to increase or lower a person’s desire

I suggested considering an open relationship. Monogamy is all well and good if it is a conscious choice that you are happy to make. If you are finding that one partner’s libido is significantly higher than another and it is becoming a real issue within the relationship, it may be helpful to discuss having other sexual partners so as to relieve one stress and/or burden. I would caution that opening up a relationship when it is not healthy will only shine a light on the cracks and force uncomfortable confrontations. If the relationship is otherwise healthy, it could be a good discussion to have. Nonmonogamy can be complex or confusing and I suggest you do research if it is something that interests you. I will be writing more about the topic when I have done more research myself.

Remember that one’s libido ebbs and flows; it changes. There may be a few months in which one person wants sex constantly and then a few months later they want it infrequently. It’s all natural! A lot of people think it is their own responsibility to be satisfied, both sexually and non. While I agree that we should each take care of ourselves, no person is an island; we are social creatures who need regular interaction with others and generally try to spend time around people who make us feel good. I think ensuring that everyone’s needs are met is a shared responsibility: if we see that someone is upset, most of us will try to help that person to feel better. A partner won’t know if you don’t communicate.

Have other suggestions? Please share in the comments!!


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