The Challenge: Mismatched Libidos Present.
When libidos don’t line up, it often feels like a scenario where someone inevitably loses or feels rejected. Neither partner getting what they want (having sex in that moment), or the other does something they don’t want (having sex without wanting it).
This is complicated enough to navigate, but another layer is added when it’s the woman with higher desire. This scenario flips our gender script on its head.
This is not uncommon, however when my client said ‘I have a higher libido' there was shame and embarrassment. Sarah was hesitant to say that her sex drive was higher than her husbands. Jason looked visibly uncomfortable and didn’t speak.
She felt there must be something wrong with her, but in actual fact she was completely aligned to herself, knowing what she wanted.
Likewise, Jason felt his low libido was the problem and felt unable to know how to react when Sarah initiated sex.
I assured both that it was okay. Therapy can look at how we can negotiate and communicate with one another how to move forward because at the moment this is causing a problem.
Reframe how you both view sex. Maybe you aren’t down for penetration. That’s fine! There are so many other ways to be sexually intimate. Having ‘individual day’ one person gets pleasured, spoilt, do genital massage only, take your time and explore. Use blind folds, feathers, new toys you both choose.
Sometimes it’s about being significant, wanting to be wanted, desired, hugged, kissed, noticed. It’s about more than sex.
Allow yourself to get ready for sex. The tension you both felt when you lived apart was so impactful. We need to recreate this tension now that you live together.
Making gestures throughout each day - touching, kisses, acknowledgment of each other, being intimate and generous can only lead to a good time later.
With minimal interaction then bed time will seem like ‘you only want sex’ ‘I feel used’ stay connected to be connected.
Figure out what her motivation for sex is. Talk about this when not horny. Sometimes it’s about being significant, wanting to be wanted, desired, hugged, kissed, noticed. It’s about more than sex. The most beautiful thing about intimate sex with someone you care about is that it fills a lot of different roles in our lives. With a bit of intentionality, you’ll be able to find a way to meet her desires while also respecting your temporary lack of desire.
When your desires don’t align either with orgasm or libido that does not stop you discussing and trying new adventures together. Consciously being in the relationship with open communication can help bring the sex life…to life.
And it's important to remember that just like you going through instances of low sex drive, a high libido in women is completely normal. There's a whole lot of chemistry involved with making our bodies tick, and sometimes, those hormones get mixed up or changed around.
What hormone causes female arousal? Two hormones; oestrogen and progesterone. They can have an impact on increasing a woman's sex drive, depending on their levels.
The point is, as a result, the situation can stir up a number of negative emotions. She may misinterpret your temporary lack of desire as a lack of desire for her. She could feel deeply rejected and wounded. She may worry that the situation is indicative of deeper issues in your relationship.
At the same time, you may feel pressure to say yes. You may feel anxious about the impact of saying no. You may feel guilty about not wanting sex at that moment.
It takes a delicate approach to work through this scenario, but you can navigate it in a way that’s a win-win for you both.
Generosity within a relationship is vital for its survival.
Having a balance of initiation which can include other aspects in a relationship, such as chores and finances. It is important for the health of the relationship to feel significant.
For example, if one person is always the driver and the other person is the passenger, the driver will eventually be sick of driving. Equally the driver may then hand the responsibility completely over to the passenger but where the passenger hasn’t negotiated being in the driver seat for so long they will naturally find it difficult to fit into this mode. This will then cause resentment, anger and frustration.
Always being the initiator in any aspect of the relationship will have a negative affect as some point.
Generosity within a relationship is vital for its survival. When we don’t ask for our needs to be met in a way that makes sense to us and conveyed to our partner, we find ourselves feeling like an ‘I’ in a ‘We’ relationship not really knowing why we are there.
Therapy can help you work out why you find yourself in this place of doing everything. It could be wanting to feel safe. You only feel safe by controlling the environment. This could have been the set up of the relationship and how it’s always been.
It doesn’t have to stay the same.
With commitment love and hard work this relationship can become whole again.
Esther Perel talks about how you’re loved as a child - that’s how you will love as an adult.
What I would want this couple to work out is; what love means for them.
This would be looking at family of origin, profiling what the therapist hears and giving them a structure to see actually why THEY feel that sex is such an important part of this relationship for them or not or how you are loved and how love is the oxygen of the relationship.
I would be looking at connection; how your conversations enable you to talk about these differences.
The difference is okay, it’s about what can we do to help the couple become aligned.
I would also be looking at the power dynamic between them outside of the bedroom. To see how we can then align it to within the bedroom. I am not suggesting that he has to change or she has to change. It is about how much sex are you asking for and what is available to you.
Negotiating (not compromising) a plan for both to be sitting in a better place and discussing sex openly, therapy can help with this.
[real names have been changed]