It is estimated that one in three couples deal with mismatched sex drives at some point in the relationship. When this issue is not addressed, it undermines the intimacy in the relationship and can lead to misunderstanding, frustration and even infidelity.
Needless to say, this issue can only be resolved if both partners are committed to their relationship and willing to work hard at it. Not only is it important to work on it but to understand if sex has been absent from your relationship for many months or years, the problem won’t likely resolve itself in a matter of days or weeks.
There are many reasons why couples can have mismatched sex drives, and those reasons can even change throughout a relationship. There are important physical conditions, disorders and medications that can interfere with one’s desire to be sexual as well as the birth of a child, stress from a job or the natural aging process. The one thing that remains consistent is that not dealing with mismatched sex drives creates problems in the relationship.
A mismatched sex drive usually involves one person who begs for sex with another person rejecting them. This dynamic brings about guilt, shame, resentment, anger and feelings of inadequacy. Those feelings tend to spread to every area of the relationship and eventually ends the relationship or assures year after year of unhappiness.
10 common problems in a relationship that can contribute to a lower libido and a mismatched sex drive
- Added stress brought about from a job change
- Signs of depression
- Lifestyle changes, such as lack of sleep, weight gain and alcohol, drug or tobacco use
- Relationship boredom due to different ideas about what turns on your partner
- Loss of attraction toward one’s partner
- Relationship issues such as resentment or built-up anger
- Lack or loss of enjoyment and pleasure during sex
- Pregnancy or birth of a child
- Past issues of sexual trauma surfacing
- An illness or change in medication
If any of these problems are persistent in your relationship, communication is crucial. Take the time to figure out what is happening and come up with a plan. Relationships come with lots of difficult conversations — money, kids, in-laws and work — and talking about sex shouldn’t be swept under the rug. When sex disappears from the relationship, it’s generally a sign that something else is going on.
The answer to a mismatched sex drive is not one size fits all. Understanding that your partner has their own sexual pattern, specific turn ons and specific turn offs. Cultural differences, religious differences and how a person is raised can all play into the issue. One piece of advice is to always take responsibility for our own sexual pleasure and our own sexual discomforts. In an article on Psychology Today, Michele Weiner-Davis, MSW talks about just that.
In my own practice, I always tell my clients that while one person may feel one way about sex, it is almost a guarantee that the other person is going to feel something different. When talking about sex, it is important to leave judgment at the door and be open to what the other person is saying. Sex is very personal and difficult to open up about, and no one can be honest if they feel judged.