Misaligned Sex Drives and Desire Discrepancy

Misaligned sex drives are one of the most common struggles that couples of all ages come into my office to overcome. There are two ways misaligned sex drives, also called desire discrepancy, typically manifest: desired times of sex and frequency of sex. For instance, one person may really prefer morning sex while the other only likes sex at night. Or one person would prefer to have sex every day, while the other only wants it once a week. People are often hesitant to start this conversation with their partner or they are afraid of where the conversation may take them.

This scary topic of “I want – I don’t want” does not have to be so intimidating. The first place to start is getting clear with yourself about what your needs are and then having a honest conversation with your partner about them. Keeping these things under the rug doesn’t do anyone any good and will build resentment and frustration in the relationship. If you want more sex, share with your partner that you’re feeling a desire to be closer to them more frequently. See how they respond. Listen to what they say. You never know – they may want more closeness as well. Or you may find out that they actually need something different from sex. Maybe they really want you to be more aggressive, more verbal or more tender. Or maybe they have been fantasizing about sex in different areas of the house and are bored of having sex the same way in the bed. Share what your needs are. Be as honest and as kind as possible. Learning what your partner needs sexually and sharing what you need sexually is the first step to closing the desire gap.

Once you’ve had the conversation around what your needs are, try to start looking at the situation as a team. In sitting with hundreds of couples, I would say it’s extremely rare that people have the same sex drives over the course of their relationship. It’s about meeting in the middle and figuring out what works. Where can you compromise, and where can your partner compromise?

Take the example I mentioned above: one person desires sex everyday and the other person desires sex once a week. Opening up the topic of what the person who desires less sex might need to be interested in engaging erotically more often can give you immeasurable insight. Maybe that person has been too shy to tell you they want more dirty talk, loving affirmations, or maybe soft touching all over the body or possible more help around the house or understanding around their work demands.

Gary Chapman describes in his classic book, The Five Love Languages, the five primary ways that people feel loved. If you have never heard of Gary and the five love languages, I highly recommend picking up his book. The main goal with opening up the topic is to start working together towards finding actual things that you can try to do differently or more of, where you align with your partner and where you may have blind spots.

You may also want to try to be flexible on what you believe your needs are. Our bodies change over time, and with that, our sexual needs can shift. No need to be discouraged if you try something and it doesn’t ignite the flame, just try something else. Being flexible and able to make mistakes is a huge part of maintaining a long-term sexual connection. Be open to suggestions from your partner even if you think they are silly. Sex is meant to be fun, where you have the chance to create meaningful connections and lasting memories. The bottom line is: when you ask for what you want, you are more likely to have the sex life you want.

– Keeley