What to Do if You and Your Partner Have Different Sex Drives

Everyone deserves to feel sexually fulfilled

Updated 08/25/17
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Jessica Bosse / Daring Wanderer

What do you do when you want more (or less) sex than your partner? It’s the question those in long-term relationships have been asking themselves for a very long time.

Have you noticed your partner is not as interested in getting down and dirty as he or she once was? Do you feel like there is an innate lack of passion where it once bloomed freely? Are you horny, and want to have more sex but aren’t?

Or, perhaps you yourself have lost some of your desire and want to get it back?

If so, you are probably dealing with mismatched sex drives. This is a perfectly normal phenomenon, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t incredibly frustrating.

According to a survey from the sex and wellness company, Lovehoney, mismatched libidos is a common cause of relationship troubles. Of the 1,700 U.S. consumers surveyed, 50 percent of participants believed that having a matching libido with a partner is a critical component of sexual happiness, and 47 percent observed that having a mismatched libido created problems in a previous relationship.

What is there to do? It’s not like sitting your partner down and saying, “Look, I need more sex and I need it now,” is a particularly enticing conversation. But it is necessary. As with most everything in relationships, sexual needs are something you’ll need to work out with your partner to ensure overall relationship satisfaction, because everyone deserves to feel sexually fulfilled.

Here are a few pieces of advice for how to have this often awkward but oh-so-important conversation.

Have a discussion outside of the bedroom

If you’re going to talk about sex (or lack thereof), don’t bring it up in the bedroom. Don’t talk about it while trying to seduce your partner (not sexy), and don’t talk about it when you’re about to go to sleep (not productive).

Sit your partner down in a room that is in no way associated with sex and explain what is going on with you. Don’t put the blame on your partner; this will only push the person into a defensive mode. You have to approach the conversation from a place of understanding. Tell him or her that you want to feel close to them and you need sex to feel connected.

You can say that sometimes you need your partner to show up for you. Maintenance sex is a real part of relationships—it increases pair- bonding and helps you feel emotionally linked to your partner. It’s important that you both feel comfortable voicing your feelings and can open a line of honest communication to find a reasonable solution.

Set realistic expectations

When looking for a solution, be willing to compromise. Don’t expect to go into these proto-negotiations and expect to go from having sex once a week to once every day. If your partner would prefer sex once a week, perhaps you can compromise on two to three times per week.

To compensate for the other days on which you’d like to have sex, you can try mutual masturbation. Find some porn that the both of you like and enjoy it together. If your partner doesn’t want to masturbate, he or she can be a part of your experience. Have him or her tease your nipples, or rub your thighs, arms, and belly sensually while you touch yourself.

There is no wrong way to experience sexuality, and having your partner there and in on the pleasure can help bridge the libido gap without putting too much strain on the relationship.

Play with sex toys

When you’re in a bit of rut, try exploring new avenues of sexuality and sexual play. Keeping the sexual fire alive in a LTR takes work and innovation, especially in your sex life.

Sex toys are an excellent way to get your drive up and moving. Ninety percent of the Lovehoney survey respondents (yes, 90!) said that sex toys helped to increase libido. Start with some basics. We recommend a simple couple’s vibrator like the Fin from Dame Products and a cock ring with clitoral stimulus abilities like the We-Vibe Pivot.

These toys make great additions to mutual masturbation, as well as couple’s play.

Another thing to add: Lube.

Don’t forget lube. Lube is an absolute must and takes sexual pleasure and comfort to new heights. You can't go wrong. When it comes to sex, the wetter the better.

“When it comes to low libido, a good lubricant can be a game-changer and really increase sexual happiness," says Lovehoney Sexpert Sammi Cole. "Users will find several benefits including maximizing pleasure to help reach orgasm, more realistic sex toy play, decrease in chafing and soreness from masturbation, different sensations such as warming and tingling during sex, and many more.”

Go with a water-based, all-natural lube that is free of petrochemicals, glycerin, or parabens. We like Sustain Natural and Good Clean Love.

Having differing sexual libidos is very common among couples. It’s pretty rare to find a couple who is perfectly synced up sexually. As long as the two of you are committed to making it work and finding suitable solutions that benefit both of you, you’ll be just fine.

Gigi Engle is a sex educator and writer living in NYC. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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