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For some couples having a different level of sexual desire in a relationship create problems, and for others it is not a big issue. There is a wide range of variations that people may experience. For some, the ideal frequency of sexual behavior would include be at least 2 times a day, and for others maybe once a week. Sexual behaviors may range from kissing hello, holding hands, to oral sex, anal sex and intercourse. In the ideal, even with the huge differences between the natural level of desire, each partner will experience sexual desire for the other person and enjoy their own sexuality with themselves. A balanced couple will find a ways to make the needed compromises. Compromises may include the person with the higher sex drive finding ways to satisfy themselves, such as masturbation. Sometimes the partner with the lower sex drive, while not deriving any sexual pleasure (but emotional happiness) could offer to give their partner oral sex, or manual stimulation as a way to help her/him relieve her/his sexual tension. This usually works well, as long as the person receiving the sexual stimulation does not expect the person who is giving to be sexually excited. And of course, to show some appreciation that each partner has gone out of her/his way to accommodate to the other person's need. A little bit of respect often goes a long ways.
Now that you have successfully administered the test to determine if you have ever experienced sexual aversions (see below), have you ever experienced sexual desire? I will assume yes. Most people at some point in their life have. If you closed your eyes and imagined yourself marooned on a desert island with the most perfect partner (s) how frequently would you engage in sexual behavior? Which sexual behaviors would you enjoy the most? Which ones would you avoid? When is the last time that you felt hungry for sex? When are you sexually excitable? To help you answer some of these questions, have you ever . . . (again please write in if you can think of other things that were not included in this group).
1) Felt like your partner knew your body better than you do to the point that you can't wait to be touched by him/her again.
2) Had a wet dream.
3) Anticipated how you were going to touch each other, to the point where you could almost feel her/his breath on your skin.
4) 'Accidentally', left something at her/his house so that you could see this person again.
5) Do you find yourself getting 'hard' for not reason (both men and women get 'hard' when they are sexually excited).
6) Taken an extra shower, put on your favorite clothes, best smelling perfume/cologne so that you will look and smell more appealing to your partner.
7) Fantasized about what will happen in the evening, or tried to orchestrate a particular situation to occur where the two of you (or even three of you) could get super close.
8) Masturbated while imagining it was someone else touching you?
9) Felt so in love with a person, that you just wanted them in every way possible.
10) Used sex as a form of exercise so that you could strengthen your abs and/or arm muscles in a more fun way than going to the gym for a traditional workout with weights.
11) Used sex to express an emotion?
12) Felt alive while having sex?
13) Wanted to act on a sexual tingling right away without regards to anything else?
How does this category fit you? What is your level of sexual desire? In my
experience, most people fluctuate between the two groups. There may be periods
of ones life where your sexual desire will be extremely high or extremely low.
Maybe sex is a stress release, or sex is stressful. Maybe you are feeling really
in love with your partner, or are in the midst of fighting. Whatever the causes,
having a different sexual libido in a relationship than your partner, can be
problematic. Especially, if it used to match well. This difference can cause the
person who is not in the mood for sex to feel guilty about their lack of desire,
or the person with a higher sex drive may feel rejected.
If you are in a sexual relationship with someone at the moment, compare your answers against each other? Did you learn anything new? What was difficult for you to share? What was hard for you to hear? If you are single what would be hard to share? What would be easy? Do you imagine that it would be easier to share you responses with a close friend or a lover? Why?
In my experience as a therapist, what I have found to be most useful in a discussion between couples with different levels of sex drives is to focus on the following:
- - Determine if and when a change in desire occurred
- - Define what is wanted
- - Define what can be done to make a change
- - Negotiate for a change
Note that most of the focus is on communication. It is mostly on your ability to communicate your needs to one another. Remember, sexual problems do not usually disappear over night, change takes time. Often in the beginning, you may not trust the changes to be real, therefore, relax, and do not work too hard to find a 'solution'. Rather, simply take the time now to understand what caused the changes in sexual desire to have occurred, or when did the different levels of sexual desire to become problematic in the relationship.
(Please note: in some relationships men want more sex, while in others women want more sex. This is not an issue of man versus woman, rather it is an issue of two (or even three) individuals negotiating their needs).
1) In the past, the sex life with your partner has never been particularly stimulating for you, therefore you may not look forward to your next experience.
2) Your partner is not a particularly talented lover, and thus does not touch you well. He/she does not know your body well enough to know how to physically stimulate you so that you could have an orgasm.
3) Your partner's desires and your desires clash. For example when you want more genital play he wants to feel more emotionally connected.
4) Maybe one person feels used and abused, not valued and therefore not sexual.
5) The two of you no longer plan in advance to have sex. Often couples who have been together for a while stop planning on having evenings that are set aside for sex. Suddenly, they find themselves getting caught up in the day to day pressures of life and no longer prioritize simply
spending quality time together.
6) The two of you are in the midst of a big argument, therefore the last thing you want is to be sexual.
7) Sex feels empty and disconnected. Therefore, it does not feel like a pleasurable experience.
8) Your partner is not physically attractive to you. Maybe he gained weight. Maybe she lost too much weight. Maybe he got a haircut. Maybe her breath stinks.
9) Maybe you are having difficulty having an orgasm, experiencing premature ejaculations, having difficulty maintaining an erection, or feel ugly; therefore averting sex is a way to avoid your embarrassment caused by your discomfort.
10) It might be that the side effect of one of the medications that you are on, reduces sexual drive. This is a pretty common side effect for some forms of prescription medication.
11) Old sexual tapes from the past, the ones that say sex is dirty or wrong (etc).
12) Acute and chronic illness or pain decreases sexual desire. For example, a woman who has had chronic back pain, may have a harder time focusing on the parts of her body which are being stimulated because the physical chronic pain that she feels every waking minute is too overwhelming. Or maybe the man who has survived a heart attack is now afraid that any extreme feeling may aggravate his condition, thus he avoids all situations where he could make himself in a vulnerable situation.
13) Then there is always good old depression. Depression simply slows down
the whole body, so therefore everything might feel less enjoyable.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, than your sex drive may be lower than it naturally is. In fact, I would be surprised if this category does not fit you at all. Almost everyone at some point or another has experienced sexual aversions. The question is what to do about it. As you have heard me say a million times already, the best way to deal with this situation is to be open and honest about it both with yourself, and with your partner. A little bit of communication can go a long way. You are not doing yourself or your partner any favors by hiding this information. You do have a sex drive and it is best to start tapping into it - so that you can better enjoy your sexuality.
Tips written by Alex Robboy, LSW
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|September 19, 2006|