People in a relationship may differ in how much sex they want. Mismatched sex drives are common but may cause a strain in a relationship if the couple does not learn to manage their differences. There are many factors that can cause this, including medication, hormones, and stress.
You and your partner probably have a lot in common. Or if you’re not partnered, you likely seek common traits in a prospective mate. Whether it’s a love of tramping, camping, or rock concerts, these commonalities help keep you close as a couple.
So, what happens if your sex drives don’t sync?
It’s common for couples to have mismatched sexual drives, especially as their relationship matures. It’s possible that one partner wants sex constantly. The other might not be as interested.
Does that mean there is a problem with the relationship?
Not always. Some people are wired to have higher sex drives than others. And that’s okay – until a mismatch happens. Partners who want more sex may take their partner’s rejection personally and feel frustrated and angry. Partners who don’t want sex may feel guilty about disappointing their partner or annoyed and pressured if they are constantly approached about sex.
If you find yourself in this situation, first consider whether one partner’s libido has changed over time.
Sometimes, a medical issue causes sex drive to drop:
Hormones. Sexual desire is driven largely by hormones, and hormone production – for both men and women – changes over time. As men get older, their bodies start making less testosterone, and some find themselves less interested in sex. A woman’s libido may also decline during and after menopause when her estrogen levels drop.
Medications. Some medications, like antidepressants, have sexual side effects that can include a dip in sex drive.
When people are hurt or angry with each other, they can feel less inclined to have sex. Working out the conflict with a trained counsellor or therapist can help couples better communicate with each other and decide on their goals, including sexual goals.
Sometimes, mismatched libidos have nothing to do with hormones or relationships. Some people are just more sexual than others.
Understanding this is the key to compromising. With that clear, couples can talk together about meeting each other in the middle.
Here are 10 tips to bring back the passion in your marriage:
- Change your pattern of initiating sex
Maybe you are denying your partner or coming on too strong. Avoid criticizing each other and stop the “blame game.” Mix things up to end the power struggle. For example, distancers may want to practice initiating sex more often and pursuers try to find ways to tell their partner “you’re sexy,” in subtle ways while avoiding critique and demands for closeness.
2. Hold hands more often
Holding hands, hugging, and touching can release oxytocin causing a calming sensation. Studies show it’s also released during sexual orgasm. Additionally, physical affection reduces stress hormones – lowering daily levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
3. Allow tension to build
Our brains experience more pleasure when the anticipation of the reward goes on for some time before we receive it. So take your time during foreplay, share fantasies, change locations, and make sex more romantic.
4. Separate sexual intimacy from routine
Plan intimacy time and avoid talking about relationship problems and household chores in the bedroom. Sexual arousal plummets when we’re distracted and stressed.
5. Carve out time to spend with your partner
Try a variety of activities that bring you both pleasure. Have fun dating and practice flirting as a way to ignite sexual desire and intimacy. Everything positive you do in your relationship is foreplay.
6. Focus on affectionate touch
Offer to give your partner a back or shoulder rub. People associate foreplay with sexual intercourse, but affectionate touch is a powerful way to demonstrate and rekindle passion even if you are not a touchy-feely person.
7. Practice being more emotionally vulnerable during sex
Share your innermost wishes, fantasies, and desires with your partner. If you fear emotional intimacy, consider engaging in individual or couple’s therapy.
8. Maintain a sense of curiosity about sexual intimacy
Experiment with new ways to bring pleasure to each other. Look at sex as an opportunity to get to know your partner better over time.
9. Vary the kind of sex you have
Have gentle, loving-tender, intimate, and highly erotic sex. Break up the routine and try new things as sexual needs change.
10. Make sex a priority
Set the mood for intimacy before TV or work dulls your passion. A light meal along with your favourite music and wine can set the stage for great sex.
Even if you are not a touchy-feely person, increasing physical affection and emotional attunement can help you to sustain a deep, meaningful bond.
The good news is that allowing your partner to influence you can reignite the spark you once enjoyed.
The first thing to realise about being in a long-term relationship is that it waxes and wanes. What you feel in the beginning is impossible to sustain. If you understand this concept it will lessen the pressure to feel deeply in love all of the time.
Learning how to rekindle a relationship is not easy – it takes time and effort to create and sustain a supportive and healthy relationship and even more time if you’re faced with fixing a broken relationship. But with time and patience, you can rebuild trust and deeply connect with your partner.