Great Partner, Different Libido?

Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

Thought you’d met your ideal partner - but turns out you don't share a sex drive? Starting to wonder if this relationship can really work?

Before you end things, consider the following.

1. Is sex really the issue?

Yes, there are people who genetically do not have much of a sex drive and identify as demisexual or asexual.

But there are also people who claim they have a high sex drive who are actually using sex addictively and to avoid proper intimacy. For example, cutting every relationship short as nobody is 'as sexual as you' is a perfect way to stop anyone from getting too close.

And there are others who have a low drive not because of genetics, but because of unresolved trauma like child abuse, which has left them unable to connect sexually. If they committed to a path of healing this could change.

2. Has enough time passed?

Some people are unable to relax sexually until they have had time to truly get to know someone and build trust, which can take several months or more. Others who seem hyper sexual can fizzle out to more normal levels when they stop trying to impress.

Are you worried your sex drives don’t match because it was all amazing when you first met, but has fizzled? This is a common, especially if you rushed into the relationship and didn’t take the time to get to know someone first. If you then grow together through shared experience and new understanding, the sex can kick back in.

Otherwise, if you discover that you don’t actually have enough in common, you can end the relationship and resolve to not rush in next time.

3. Is there a big picture that you are missing?

If someone has recently gone through a big life change, like redundancy or bereavement, their sex drive can take a hit. Medical issues can also affect sex drive, as can mood disorders like depression, and mental health issues like addiction. This is why the next point is so important -- you have to talk before you jump to conclusions.

4. Have you talked about it in a healthy way?

Have you had an open, honest talk about sex? Explored what each of you likes and doesn’t like? And asked about how much sex the other person has enjoyed in other relationships and what their expectations are for yours?

Note that any conversation with tones of accusation, judgement, and blame is not a healthy relationship and will damage trust, making it less likely the other person will be interested in sex. This can sound like, “You never want sex and the sex just isn’t good”, "You only like me for sex and I hate it", or, “You can’t understand me sexually”.

Learn good rules of communication, such as starting sentences with “I” instead of “you” and making it clear you are open to being wrong. “I could be wrong, but I am wondering if we have the same interest in sex, so I’d love to talk about it.” “I am feeling misunderstood sexually, but perhaps I haven’t been very forthcoming, could we talk?”

5. Are you being honest with them - and yourself?

Are you the one who isn’t that interested in sex? And you’ve been pretending you are so that the other person doesn’t leave? Or have you been denying your own sexual tastes out of worry the other person won’t be interested?

A relationship never functions well long-term unless it is based on honesty.

Of course sometimes we are lying to ourselves. We are pretending it’s the sex that is the problem when really we just don’t want to be in the relationship, but don’t have the courage to admit it. Or sometimes we pretend the other person has sex issues when really we are projecting our own insecurities or lack of know how.

6. Is sex as important as you are making it?

A healthy sex life is a building block of relationships. But it isn’t the only one, and it depends on what matters to you personally.

If sex really is a non-negotiable for you, then that’s ok. But if you just think it should be, because your friends say it should be, or you read it should be? Think again.

It’s perfectly okay if your real priority is having a family, or being with someone who is your best friend. It’s your life, and you are the one who has to live it out. Make the choices that make you happy.

7. Could couples counselling help?

Want to have an honest talk with your partner, but find communication hard? Or try to understand your own feelings about your partner and your sex life, but feel unclear what it is you want?

Couples therapy not only helps you get to the heart of what is upsetting you, it creates a safe space for your to communicate in constructive ways and together find the right way forward.

Ready to find real solutions for your relationship and sex life? Book affordable therapy now with a therapist who can help.

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