Different libidos?

Different Libidos?

Sarah Riccio

Is your libido significantly higher than your partner's? Or significantly lower? There's actually a term for this, and it isn't "my partner wants sex less/more than I do." The term is desire discrepancy.

A mismatch between sex drives is extremely common in relationships, and it doesn't have to be a deal breaker. But there are some things to take into consideration, so let's dive in to this important and much-debated topic.

Both higher and lower libidos are normal

If you want sex less often, that's okay. If you feel insatiable, that's all right. Nobody is broken or doing it wrong, and nobody needs to be fixed.

I know this can be difficult to believe (and trust me, I've been there), but if your partner has a lower level of desire, it's not a reflection on their attraction to you. It can feel that way, but keep in mind that your lover's lower libido has nothing to do with them thinking you're not beautiful and everything to do with the ways in which they access arousal.

What does this mean? Well, it helps to know how your partner gets turned on. Follow me over the jump. 

Spontaneous vs. responsive desire

If your partner tends to become aroused before the touching starts, this is known as spontaneous desire. If they typically become aroused after the touching starts, this is known as responsive desire.

Many spontaneous desire people consider themselves on the higher libido end of the spectrum, while responsive people may consider themselves on the lower end. 

Why do people with responsive desire tend toward the lower libido end of things? For one thing, they may be less likely to initiate, which by default can make their partner more likely to do the approaching.

Learn: How to Initiate Sex

While this can feel frustrating at times, it can also help to know where you both come down on the arousal spectrum. It can help you take your partner's seeming lack of interest less personally if you understand their sexual style.  

Sexual temperament

Your libido can also be impacted by your sexual temperament, in other words, what hits the gas and what hits the brakes. Your sexual temperament is affected by stress, hormones, medication, unresolved conflict, past experiences (both good and not-so-good), and of course, genetics.

There's a whole list of factors that influence your desire, and that list can be worth unpacking if you want to understand why you respond to each other the way you do. 

So, what's next?

When it comes to sexual desire, it's up to both you and your partner to uncover which factors are at play in your relationship. Only then can you figure out what to do about it.

While it's perfectly normal to have different rates of desire, it's not healthy to exist in a relationship where your needs go unmet. Nor is it healthy to feel guilty, forced to have sex more than you'd like, or tense whenever your partner touches you.

More: Tips for Longterm Relationships

Depending on what the root causes are, solutions to different libidos might look like:

  • Therapy
  • Stress management
  • Scheduling sex time
  • Exploring non-sexual intimacy
  • Discussing open relationship dynamics

Most helpful of all is — you guessed it — open communication. Good sex rarely happens on its own, so have the hard conversations, be clear about what you need, and be open to hearing a point of view that may be very different from yours. Your satisfaction is worth the effort.