When Your Libidos Don’t Line Up

One of the biggest challenges in love relationships is when the desire for sex is much higher in one person than the other. But there are ways to address this common issue. If both of you are willing to make an effort to understand what it’s like to be in the other person’s shoes, you can build emotional and physical and intimacy.

It might not be you…

It is natural to take it personally when your amorous advances are rebuffed on a regular basis. But often, the reason someone says ‘no’ has nothing to do with their partner’s words or actions. They may have a hormone deficiency, psychological problems, self-esteem issues, or feelings of inadequacy.

…but that doesn’t mean there aren’t steps you can take.

Nonetheless, there are things you can do to help your partner feel loved, which may lead them to want to show their appreciation physically:

  • Show empathy. You may be surprised at how much your partner wishes they had a more active libido. In most couples, the situation is painful for both people.
  • Start where they are. Some people can’t get physical until they feel emotionally close. For others, it works the other way. To build emotional connections, do more things together like having a weekly date night or tackling household chores as a team. Talk directly about what would help make each person feel connected, besides sex. Engage in little acts of kindness and thoughtfulness like calling during day for no reason or bringing home a special treat. Be affectionate without expecting sex to follow. If your partner needs physicality to get emotional, fake it till you make it. Everyone gets what they want in the end.
  • Take a break. If what you are doing isn’t working, it probably won’t work with 58 more tries. Give it a rest. Don’t talk about sex or make advances for a few weeks and see what happens.

Focus on other things, and meet each other halfway

So your sexual needs aren’t being met. That is absolutely a problem, but what about your other needs? Have you been focusing on sex so much that you aren’t nurturing friendships outside the marriage? Have you been neglecting outside-of-work hobbies or interests? Turning your attention elsewhere might shift your partner’s attention to you.

It is possible for the low-libido person to agree to sex as a loving gift to their partner. Accept the gift graciously, without requiring it to be anything more. This can become a bad pattern. Be aware not to let that happen.

Try what worked in the past

Is there anything about the early days of your relationship, when sex was more of a mutual interest, you can reproduce now?

It is natural for sexual desire to abate over time (sex hormones are strongest in the beginning of a relationship), but it may be possible to rekindle a spark that has all but gone out. Remember what good behavior you were on at the beginning? You spent tons of time together, participated in activities you may not have been crazy about, putt the other person’s needs first. Call a reset and get back to focusing on each other inside and outside of the bedroom.

Be frank

Sometimes we miss the other person’s cues about what they want and need. Even if you have been together for decades, it isn’t fair to ask your partner to read your mind. If your thinking goes along the lines of “if he really loved me he would know I want X without me having to ask,” change it. Sometimes you have to ask! If sex in the morning when you are rested works better for you than when you tired at night, for example, say so.

If you are at the breaking point, and thinking of looking for sex outside the relationship, it is time to be frank with your partner. Explain what you are thinking and why, including that you don’t want to be unfaithful, but your needs are not being met and you don’t know what else to do. Ask your partner to seek help from a medical professional or sex therapist to see if there is anything that can be done about their lack of interest.

Don’t give up

There are many approaches to addressing mismatched libido, and it can take time to find what works for you. Meanwhile, it is important to appreciate all the others ways your partner is an excellent match. If you are in a long-term, committed relationship, celebrate what is working while you address what isn’t.