Therapist: “Do you have sex often?”
Him: “Hardly ever, maybe three times a week”
Her: “Constantly, I’d say three times a week”
Having differing sexual appetites is completely normal in relationships, yet it can create stress and strain connection when not discussed openly.
We all know how rare it is to meet someone who has all the qualities that we are looking for in a relationship not to mention a mutual feeling of attraction. In the beginning of relationship you and your lover may feel like you are fully on the same page, but as time goes on and the newness begins to give way to day-to-day demands, it can be alarming if your sexual appetites get out of sync.
The most important tool you’ll need to navigate differing libidos and desires are your words, and how and when you say them.
Say for instance that you are the one wanting sex more frequently and you feel like your partner keeps turning you down. Talk to them. Share with them in a honest (meaning direct but not angry) way how it feels to be rejected. You could share with them what it brings up in you. Things such as: it makes me feel undesirable or unloved, or that things will never work out between us. Whatever the fear is, speak to it and give it a voice so your partner knows what they are up against.
Maybe you’re in the other boat; you are the one turning down your partner’s advances and you feel guilty about not wanting as much frequency of sex. Say something. Share that you have been noticing that you have been declining advances and you care about your partner. Let them know why you have been not as open sexually. Some possible reasons may be: you have had a lot on your mind and sex hasn’t been a priority, you really only want to have sex two times a week instead of the four that you had been having, you’re feeling overweight or out of shape. There can be a million reasons why you are declining advances and speaking to them before they become a huge fight will pay off in the long run.
We may be afraid to speak the truth about what is happening inside our relationship, especially when it comes to how often we have sex. But once we let fear own us, it’s hard to break away from that strong pull and we simply continue “business as usual.”
We can make the choice not to be scared of our partner’s differing needs. It doesn’t mean that a relationship is over because one person would only like sex once a week. If both partners are open, there is a way to work through mostly everything.
I once worked with a couple where one person hadn’t communicated that they wanted sex less frequently. They started to really push their partner away, not allowing any connection or sexual advances. Once they shared openly about the shame and guilt around only wanting sex every other day, the whole relationship dynamic shifted. This person was not closing down any connection attempts and even though sex was not as frequent as the other partner would have liked, the relationship on a whole was more loving and connected.