What to Do When One Partner Has a Higher Libido Than the Other

A frowning woman lying in bed next to her partner needs to nurture his libido because it’s lower than hers

How to nurture each other’s desire

Sex is usually an important part of a relationship but physical intimacy can be hindered when one person’s libido is higher than the other’s. Mismatched libidos can cause the partner with the higher sex drive to feel rejected and the partner with the lower drive to feel pressure and anxiety.

If one person’s lack of desire is causing a problem in your relationship, it might be helpful to know you’re not alone. One study revealed 80% of couples have experienced an instance of mismatched libidos. It’s very common for partners to deal with a desire discrepancy at some point.

Expressing and meeting each other’s sexual needs can deepen your relationship and allow it to flourish. When you’re experiencing a desire discrepancy, it can bring feelings of anxiety, rejection, and frustration. We talk about common causes of desire discrepancy, how to address it, and how couples and sex therapy can help.

What causes a desire discrepancy?

Many factors can affect a person’s libido and interest in sex. Age, physical and mental health, medication side effects, performance anxiety, stress, the birth of a child, and parenting are just a few of the things that impact desire.

Low libido can affect both men and women. According to sex therapist Gila Shapiro, “In around 60 percent of the couples that I see in my clinical practice, it is the women who have a higher sex drive.”

Whether you have the higher libido or your partner does, it’s important to refrain from stigmatizing or shaming the other person’s feelings. It’s also important to address the issue head-on because if the pattern repeats long enough, feelings of rejection and resentment can begin to fester.

How to address a desire discrepancy

If both partners are motivated and willing to be honest, mismatched libidos don’t need to be a relationship deal-breaker. There are several things you can do to address this common problem and perhaps even strengthen your connection to your partner.

1. Have an honest conversation