There are a great many myths about sex in relationships which can leave people questioning if they have a boring sex life, including:
How often you should be having sex
That a man always has a higher sex drive than a woman
That you should ‘give in’ and satisfy your partner every now and then
And that’s just to name a few!
As a relationship therapist, I see couples every single day dealing with these exact issues. Usually there’s a lot of confusion over what they’re hearing from others as ‘normal’ sexual desires, and what they personally feel comfortable with.
One of the hardest concepts for couples is the idea that they ‘should’ be having a certain amount of sex per week. This can leave the person with the higher sex drive feeling angry and rejected, especially if they believe their partner is withholding from them on purpose.
But here’s the thing.
Someone is always going to want something more than the other. You might want to go to Bali for a holiday more than your partner. Your partner might want to go to the gym more often than you.
And one of you is going to want sex more than the other.
It’s not personal.
It’s not vindictive.
It just is.
But just as the partner who’s up for it feels annoyed to go without, the partner who doesn’t want as much sex, is probably feeling anxious and guilty about their lack of desire or how boring their sex life has become.
This dynamic is common, and sadly for the partner with the higher sex drive it starts to feel personal. They feel rejected and undesirable because their partner turns their advances down more often than they accept them.
Of course if they feel as though they have to force their partner to have sex with them, they’ll inevitably start to feel worse about themselves.
On the other hand, the person with the lower sex drive might be asking themselves, ‘what’s wrong with me?’ as the feelings of guilt grow each time they turn their partner down.
But the question is; if you have a low sex drive, should you simply ‘give in’ and have sex just to satisfy your partner?
Well, let’s look at this a bit closer.
If one partner feels as though they’re ‘giving in’ every time the couple has sex, they’ll inevitably start to feel resentful. They aren’t having sex for the enjoyment of it, but merely to placate their partner, which isn’t sustainable.
The alternative is to start withholding sex, which then builds resentment in the partner with the higher sex drive. Of course this sort of dynamic can very quickly spiral down for the couple, and end up in a gridlock.
The depth of each couple’s desire will never be completely equal, and it’s only relative to each other. You can only compare yourself to your partner. Comparing yourself to other couples is a pointless exercise.
Recognising that it’s less a personal slight against each other, and more a personal preference, can start to ease the gridlock. Here are some other things to consider:
Stop focusing on what your partner wants, and start focusing on your needs
There’s a saying that goes “get off their back, get out of their way, and get on with your life”. This doesn’t mean give up on caring for them. It means prioritising your own happiness. When you’re happy with yourself, the way you respond to your partner will change.
Stop trying to change your partner
This is similar to the first point, but it goes even deeper. Couples often feel that if their partner would just change, even a little bit, then everything would be ok. The problem with this line of thinking is that you’re placing your happiness on someone else changing – and that’s not possible. How they think, feel and behave is their responsibility, so is their ability to change.
Open up to solutions other than the ones you’ve tried
When couples start to spiral down, their view of the problem becomes very narrow. Try to open up to other possibilities even ones you might have already considered, but previously rejected. What was happening for you when you rejected this possibility? Do you feel differently now?
If you feel that intimacy is lacking on any level and that thought of jumping straight into bed is drawing a long bow. Why not try my couple time cards or for a more in depth solution my intimacy boot camp.
Once you start to take the pressure off a gridlock situation like conflicting sexual desire, you have a chance to start developing yourself within the relationship, and that will ultimately be a good thing for both of you.