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

Abbie Chatfield on Navigating Mismatched Sex Drives in a Relationship

Reader Question:

So I've been with my boyfriend for around five months now. Since day one, there's been a big problem in our relationship: I have a really high sex drive and would have sex multiple times a day if possible, whereas he's happy having sex once a week or sometimes even less.

I mentioned it to him once a couple of months ago after he didn't want to have sex one day. He kind of brushed it off and said "Isn't sex important to everyone?" But there were no real changes in how much we were having sex.

We can only see each other once a week and if we don't have sex when we get to see each other I honestly get so sad. I'm starting to get so insecure and feel so unwanted, I want to talk to him about it again . . . Sex is really special to me and I don't want to be worried that he's only having sex with me because I told him how much it was upsetting me, I want him to really want it and want to be close to me. It's gotten to a point where I feel like may be easier to just break up, but everything else is great. It's literally just the sex that's the problem.

I'm just so sick of feeling so sad and rejected all the time.

Ah, a tale as old a time – mismatched libidos have the potential to kill even the strongest of relationships. While polite society wants us to believe that requiring a certain amount of sex in a romantic relationship makes you frivolous and shallow, sexual compatibility can truly make or break a relationship. This isn't to say that you need to be a couple of hornbags reaching Kath and Kel levels of sexual activity, but it's important to be in the same ballpark when it comes to libido and desire. Given you are a mere five months into this relationship, it seems your libidos are fundamentally mismatched, as this isn't the natural ebb and flow of a long-term relationship, but don't fret! It isn't as cut and dry as you may think.

From what you've said, it seems that, like me, your love language is physical touch and the absence of sex leaves you feeling undesired and, in turn, unfulfilled. If your partner isn't affectionate enough for you with both sexual and non-sexual touch, this could point to a larger problem of incompatibility. However, if the issue predominantly comes from the absence of sexual play, we are not at doomsday levels just yet! It does sound like your experience in this relationship is positive, so I think it's worth trying something else. With all of that being said, let's get to some tangible advice.

Think Less

This may be easier said than done, but as a Gemini who overanalyses her entire life, hear me out . . . Some people may experience penetrative sex as extremely intense and physically and emotionally draining, despite wanting a sexual connection. Sometimes we confuse wanting physical intimacy with wanting sex — I have certainly been guilty of this in the past. This is not to discount your sex drive, but to remind you that there are ways that you can both be sexually fulfilled in the relationship without you feeling like you're forcing your boyfriend to have sex with you, and without your boyfriend feeling pressured to have sex in the most basic form. The pressure you're putting on yourself because of the sense of urgency that comes from your busy schedules is taking the sensuality and pleasure out of the act of sex itself for both of you right now, so let's work on enjoying each part of sex.

Focus on Connection Rather Than Climax

What I would recommend is trying to engage in sexual acts that aren't necessarily penetrative sex. This could mean just making out with minimal clothing on to maximise skin-to-skin contact with no expectation of sex, just enjoying the connection you feel from kissing and touching. Getting out of your head and enjoying this time together is likely to lead to penetrative sex, but this shouldn't be your focus.

Reconsider What "Sex" Means

Sometimes it's easy to forget that sex can mean so much more than just penetrative sex leading to an orgasm. We're conditioned to think that hetero sex begins and ends with an erection, but this doesn't have to be the case. There are ways to include your partner in your orgasm and sexual experience without needing them to penetrate you, and the absence of expectation often leads to penetrative sex.

The most obvious non-penetrative sex is oral, reciprocated or not, so engaging in this with your partner with no expectation of penetration will give you the sexual connection and climax you need and take the pressure off your boyfriend. Another option, and my main recommendation, is to engage in mutual or assisted masturbation. It's rarely spoken about but is one of my absolute favourite things to do. Mutual masturbation is exactly what it sounds like, both of you kissing and talking, or even watching porn, while masturbating side by side. It allows you to feel connected, both of you can orgasm, and it also adds an element of taboo, knowing that you can't touch each other the way you may want to. If your partner isn't interested in being involved in this way, it's time to introduce toys. Choose a sex toy together so that it feels more personal for the both of you, have some practice using it solo and then involve him in the mix next time you're together, showing him exactly what to do.

Listen to Your Needs

If you try all of these acts with varying levels of sexual intimacy and your boyfriend isn't interested, or it isn't satisfying you enough, it seems that your sexual needs are not aligned, and it's time to evaluate how important this form of compatibility is to you. It sounds like sex is a foundational pillar in your relationships and that is totally OK! It's great, even. If it isn't working sexually and you find yourself constantly wanting more, feeling like you're being drip-fed affection and sexual intimacy, it's time to leave. It's clear that your love language is physical touch, and as such, sex means much more to you than just an orgasm, and this lack in your relationship can make you feel unloved and wanting more. As the old saying goes, it's better to be alone than to be in a relationship that makes you feel lonely.

*Question has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Abbie Chatfield on Navigating Mismatched Sex Drives in a Relationship  originally posted on POPSUGAR Love & Sex
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