Five Ways to Solve Sexual Desire Differences

Unless you are still in the honeymoon stage of a relationship where sexual desire is at its peak, you’ve probably experienced sexual desire differences with your partner. However, if you are no longer in the honeymoon phase, but have noticed either you or your partner is not interested in sex at times, this can signal a discrepancy. Unfortunately for couples, this can become more pronounced over time, revealing a sexual mismatch called desire discrepancy (DD).

Research into Desire Differences

Lisa Day and Amy Muise examined how couples decide whether to engage in sex or not. They were particularly interested in how couples decided whether or not to be sexually active and if these couples experienced desire discrepancies (DD).

What they found was quite interesting. First, that 80% of participates experienced a DD within the past month. Also, couples often experience DD as much as 5 out of 7 days per week.  Additionally, they learned that a person’s motivation to meet their partner’s sexual needs – which they labeled as a partner’s sexual communal strength – made a huge difference in:

  • Whether or not a couple has sex.
  • How satisfying the sex and also the relationship is in general.

The authors describe:

“People who are high in sexual communal strength-those who are motivated to meet their partner’s sexual needs without the expectation of immediate reciprocation-were less concerned with the negatives of having sex-such as feeling tired the next day. Instead, these communal people were more focused on the benefits to their partner of engaging in sex, such as making their partner feel loved and desired.”

The authors go on to say these motivators, even when one isn’t as interested in sex as the other, in the end leaves both partners being more satisfied with their sex lives. So, even if your interest in sex is low but the desire to please your partner is high, the result is that both of you experience some sexual satisfaction.

Factors Important for Sexual Satisfaction

The key is to determine how partners can acquire sexual communal strength. It seems unlikely that everyone is going to have this high motivation to meet his or her partner’s need for sex. Couples that are currently emotionally connected and are skilled communicators are much more likely to find this motivation (as opposed to couples who are disconnected or have built up resentments). It becomes much more likely both partners would have a desire to please one another. If you have a solid, healthy relationship and your partner wants to have sex, it could be helpful to give yourself a nudge in that direction. Of course, if you are not in a good place to have sex it is rarely a good idea to consent to become intimate. Doing so only risks making things worse for both of you and the relationship.

Tips to Navigate Desire Differences

1. Practice open communication with each other regarding sex. What does each of you consider a healthy sex life? What does each of you desire in your sexual relationship?

2. Learn each other’s sexual turn-ons and turn-offs. Uncover what makes it more or less likely each of you would be interested in having sex. Go here for some more information.

3. Make sure to avoid blaming each other. Would you really want your partner to go through with it if they strongly didn’t want to have sex? This only creates resentment, which festers, grows, and damages your relationship.

4. Avoid “all or nothing” thinking in terms of having sex or not. Try to find the middle ground and explore becoming affectionate with each other. There are many options that do not require a sexual encounter but are still an opportunity to be intimate (such as a massage).

5. Address any relationship issues that are contributing to any emotional distance. Otherwise, desire differences will only be more difficult to navigate.

If you have tried these above tips, but you or your partner still feel stuck, strongly

consider getting professional help. A skilled couples counselor can help in resolving these desire differences and improve your sex life, which will significantly increase your relationship satisfaction.

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