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

It’s hard to resolve an issue until you’re able to talk about it and the same goes for conflicts in the bedroom. Good communication is key. In addition to communicating your own needs, be respectful of your partner’s side as well. Try to avoid criticizing or blaming them and instead focus on sharing your own experience and emotions. While it’s okay to feel angry or defensive, try to stay grounded and open during conversations with your partner, especially when sensitive subjects are involved.


2. Develop empathy towards your partner

There are few conflicts – relationship-based or otherwise – that can’t be made better with empathy. Taking the time to understand your partner’s point of view and making them feel seen and heard can go a long way in softening feelings of rejection or resentment. If you are the one with the higher libido, having more empathy for your partner can break down their walls and draw them closer to you. Cultivating empathy towards your partner may not be a magic bullet but it’s bound to serve your relationship over the long term.


3. Focus on physical touch over intercourse

Intercourse is often the goal with sexual encounters but it doesn’t have to be. There are many forms of physical intimacy such as kissing, holding each other, or taking a shower together – and they don’t all have to lead to intercourse. Sometimes focusing on these other forms of physical connection can take the pressure off. Talk to your partner about what forms of touch feel good and focus on those for a while as opposed to sex.


How couple therapy and sex therapy can help


Couples therapy can be a powerful tool when navigating the conflicts that might arise from mismatched libidos. Although sex isn’t the only important aspect of a relationship, learning how to meet each other’s sexual needs through therapy can deepen your connection and allow each individual to flourish. The most satisfying romantic relationship often involves both emotional and physical intimacy.


Couples therapy or sex therapy can help you communicate with your partner healthily and effectively. It’s important to be able to have honest and open discussions about a range of issues both inside and outside the bedroom. Effective communication can help you express your own needs as well as see your partner’s side more clearly.


Even the most resilient couples need some extra support now and then. With the right support, couples can navigate even the most difficult of life’s challenges. If you and your partner are struggling with different levels of desire, know that you’re not alone and that many couples have struggled with the same issue. If you’ve tried other tactics but don’t feel you’re making progress, couples counseling might be a logical next step. There’s absolutely no shame in seeking support and it might be the very thing that saves your relationship.


No matter where you are in your relationship or what you’re struggling with, our team at Love Discovery welcomes you with open arms. To get started with couples, individual, and/or sex therapy, book an appointment with any of our therapists or call 786.571.4636 for a free consultation.

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