When you first get into a relationship the romantic feelings are new and your sex drive is accelerated. It’s common to have similar libidos in a new relationship. But, once the newness wears off, usually partners will discover that their libidos are no longer aligned.
The clinical term for mismatched libidos is Sexual Desire Discrepancy (SDD) and it’s actually very common.
Are Mismatched Libidos a Red Flag in a Relationship?
Having matched libidos is like having orgasms at the same time–they’re both pretty rare.
Experiencing mismatched libidos is completely normal for most couples. And while most people I speak with believe in the stereotype that men have the stronger libido, I find that the majority of couple’s I speak with, it’s the women in relationship who crave more sex. I think this is because quite a few women feel like sex brings them closer to their partner, so their sexual needs are sometimes emotional. I’ve also found that same sex couples have these same concerns.
While some of my patients feel like having mismatched libidos is a red flag, I’d like to share that sex drives change throughout a person’s lifetime. Because of stress, medications, and medical issues, a person’s sex drive can decrease. At other times, a sex drive can increase. I feel like it’s almost impossible for two people to have aligned libidos at all times.
Studies have shown that men’s testosterone levels peak throughout winter, while women’s testosterone levels peak during the fall months. This means sex drives are more apt to align in late fall.
However, if there is an extreme difference in libidos over a period of time, this is definitely a cause for concern. One partner will eventually feel pressured to have sex, while the other will become frustrated. Since libidos do ebb and flow during the span of a relationship, if you feel this is your true love, there are ways to help get both partners better balanced.
What Affects Sex Drives?
One of the most common situations with couples I speak with is that medication, stress, and the overwhelming pressures of life can create havoc on their libidos. With men especially, medication and stress are direct causes of erectile dysfunction because they interfere with hormone levels. So, often it’s not that a partner is having their sexual needs fulfilled elsewhere–this is a common worry amongst couples with changes in sex play frequency.
In other instances, certain hormonal birth control can dampen a woman’s libido.
In most relationships, libidos will naturally decrease after the initial honeymoon stage.
Possible Solutions for Mismatched Libidos
While every couple is unique, I do have a few suggestions that may help with people who find themselves in this situation. First, I have to share that time and time again I find that communication is essential for both partners to get in sync with each other and their relationship. Sometimes a low libido is just dyspareunia, or painful sex, in disguise. This is why discussing your feelings can be so important in a relationship.
Something to keep in mind is that research shows that couples experiencing desire discrepancy are usually dissatisfied with their relationship overall and that sex is not the root cause.
A deep compassion for your partner is a must to start. Agree to openly communicate and be honest with each other. Step back and look at your relationship. What are possible reasons your or your partners’ 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 paradigm a reality?
Always eliminate medical possibilities first. If you’ve always experienced a low libido, could there be a hormonal imbalance? Has the issue been discussed with an OB/GYN or your general practitioner? I will often ask for medical tests, such as one measuring testosterone levels, for my patients. Often medication, or lack thereof, is the reason for a lot of hormonal issues that can affect sexual desires.
For me, I ask my patients to reboot their sexual relationship with sensate touch assignments, have them step out of their normal roles with intimate play, or have each of them take turns initiating sex within a pre-determined time period. Women usually need more nourishing by their partners leading up to sex play, while men desire titillation. But having open conversations about what works with both partners can do wonders for getting them back on the same page with their sex drives.
I give my patients active assignments that motivate them toward a common goal–often this goal is more fulfilling sex play for both partners.
I encourage you to focus less on the amount of sex and more on the quality of your sex play. Discuss options with your own physician, such as trying herbal supplements like Steel-Libido for Women or a medically-prescribed testosterone enhancer for men.
Try these 4 Easy Fixes for Yourself!
Here are four fixes I suggest you try with your partner to align libidos and bring more fulfilment into your sex life.
#1 Appeal to the Senses
When women have a sexual encounter with their partners, they want their partners to tell them they’re beautiful, and incredibly sexy, and cherished, and loved. Sex is usually a deeper emotional experience for women. Men who make an effort to nurture their partners with compliments and kindness, and take their time during foreplay and sex play, will be rewarded with a deeper sexual connection.
Men are naturally visually stimulated. Men want their sexual encounters to arouse their senses with lingerie or suggestive clothing, sexy bedroom talk, and their favorite music.
These aspects can be incorporated so both partners feel their needs being met. Making efforts such as these can make the quality of sex better, making frequency less important.
#2 Widen Your View about Sex
“Sex” in itself doesn’t have to only mean the act of intercourse.
Sex and sexual pleasure can include kissing, touch, foreplay, sensual massage, oral acts, using intimate pleasure products, mutual masturbation, and more. I encourage couple’s to move away from getting hung up on the definition and concentrate on the pleasurable experiences they create together.
Maybe she wants to use her toys more often and only have actual intercourse once every other week. That allows her to still feel fulfilled and matches his libido where intercourse every other week is perfect for him.
Couples need to worry less about how many times they’re doing it and learn to enjoy how many times they’re connecting for a true intimate experience. There is no defined right or wrong, there’s just what couples find to be right for them.
In tantric sex it’s possible to have a three-hour orgasm–so intercourse may be desired on a less frequent basis. This doesn’t mean that a tantric sex couple doesn’t have enough sex. It means they may have a more fulfilling sexual experience.
#3 Keep Your Focus on Love
My favorite recommended actions are romantic gestures.
I ask couples to find a way to keep their love in the forefront of their minds. Keep journals and write reasons they love, appreciate, and cherish each other throughout the year.
Remember the reasons you fell in love when libidos become unmatched.
#4 Do-er’s versus Say-er’s
I like to establish if a person is a do-er or a say-er.
Do-er’s want flowers, they want to do things together, and have combined experiences. For do-er’s, action is key.
While say-er’s want to hear compliments, and I-love-you’s, and all the reasons why their partner thinks they’re sexy.
Establishing what works for you and your partner is a good step towards making each individual partner happy. I suggest aligning your actions and/or compliments with what your partner responds to.
Mismatched Libidos may be Bedroom Boredom
I've seen cases where a low libido was synonymous with bedroom boredom. So that's why I recommend keeping sex interesting in order to keep both partners libidos healthy.
I think people often forget that it can be sex “play”. Sex sometimes shouldn't be about the end result but about the playful, sexy acts themselves.
Explore sex toys, sexual board games, and new sex positions to keep your love life fresh and fun!
Do you and your partner have mismatched libidos? Do you struggle with your sex drive? Please send me your questions and comments. I’m always here to help you!