Of all the requests for me to write a blog about a particular topic, this would have to be number one.
The question is: what do I do when my partner has a higher libido/sex drive than me?
It is an ongoing source of conflict for couples because it may well have not even become apparent until the relationship was well established or a more permanent commitment was made (oh-oh!)
Never fear and please don’t get stressed about this one. Above all, don’t blame yourself.
I am about to spin the whole they have a high libido and I have none on its head.
What you are about to see is that a lot of this is about perspective and on a deeper level, about re-conceptualising libido (and hey, let’s do 'sex drive' while we are at it).
Wait, one moment. Before we go on, how does it feel to say they have a high libido and you have none/a low libido? Those words would make me feel crappy!! Like they are pointing at a massive gap between the two of us as we are left in the lurch. Not sexy.
In this piece, I am going to be talking to both you and your partner so encourage them to have a read. You probably won’t reach a place where the way that you feel about sex and when you are interested in it is identical so here we are aiming for increased understanding and less conflict on both your parts.
Women with 'low libido's'
First up – definitions.
I’m a self-confessed word nerd. I love the way a word changes the way you feel and subtly influences your actions.
Most importantly, there needs to be a public service announcement (PSA) that we don’t have sex drives. Nope. No one has a sex drive.
A drive in the biological sense means that we DIE if we don’t get it/do it/have it.
Sure as a species we would become extinct if we didn’t have sex but no one dies if they don’t have sex, self-pleasure, ejaculate or orgasm – man or woman. We don’t spontaneously combust if this doesn’t happen.
We would feel damn frustrated but we won’t die.
Compare sex with food, water, warmth and tribal connections and yeah, we probably will die if we don’t get these things. We all have a drive towards them to maintain homeostasis - year 9 biology alert!
Now that we are clear that neither of you have a sex drive (not sure if you want to celebrate this or mourn this), let’s talk libido.
When women say that they have a low libido, I usually end up telling them the opposite. It might be the end of session one…usually session two when I know her a little better.
I’ll say: ‘You don’t have a low libido and here is why…’
What follows is a list of all of her energy output to her vocation, her lovers, her nearest and dearest and herself.
I also take a few moments to ask questions about her sexual interest (or stirrings – how 19th century!)
Do you fantasise?
Do you have sexual dreams?
Do you self-pleasure?
How do you respond when you see a sex scene in a film?
If one or all of those are happening in her life then HEY! We are saying hello to her libido.
Oh, and on the note of that word libido – it is your ability to give and receive pleasure, enjoyment and acknowledgement (Vitti, 2013).
Notice the absence of the word sex or the word erotic?
With that in mind, I see your libido and feel my own libido as my compass for pleasure, enjoyment and acknowledgment.
Big question time.
You have a high libido for life but are you leaving anything in the tank for your sex life?
That is the modern day dilemma for women.
We have lots of energy but we struggle to prioritise the sexual and the erotic (some of the reasons why are in my last few blogs so get reading later).
So. It’s time to drop the notion that your libido is that you WANT sex but it isn’t that at all.
Your libido isn’t reflected by your desire, interest and arousal for sex.
What we women need to ask is:
Sex, what’s in it for me?
If you love your partner and don’t get psyched for sex, maybe you are allowing yourself to get lost and be the lowest priority in the bedroom?
I used to do this. Secretly wishing my man was a magician to crack my sexual code. Oh, and I also used to say, that’s OK, don’t worry about me a lot.
It happens when we are uncomfortable receiving pleasure and having the attention on us – which is kind of hilarious because we women want the attention but we don’t want the attention.
Mmm I am guilty of that one!
If you have gotten this far into reading, it’s already time I reminded you…
You have a high libido for life.
You have a high libido. (full stop. Needed to be said.)
Now, how can we tweak your libido to notice more of the erotic and sexual undertones in your life? They are there, always there and if they are not…let’s find them!
Are you feeling juiced up by your life and reality or is it one draining commitment after another? That’s a big cue that your life isn’t aligned with what you value. What do you have the power to change so that you are living life in a state of more equal giving and receiving?
Another PSA - You aren’t a machine woman!
And sex isn’t mechanical and perfunctory.
(At least it shouldn’t be).
Are you allowing time for sex? Make sure that you aren’t giving a faux invitation to have sex at a really late time of the night and then saying…actually, I’m tired. Through all my work with women, 8pm seems to be the latest kind of time. After the kids are asleep but before the Netflix marathon starts.
Are you speaking up about what you want from sex?
Do you know what you want from sex?
Your libido in the sexual sense warrants expression. It isn’t just following what the other person wants to do and saying ‘I’m fine’. Because you’re not fine – I know you want more from your intimate expression as well.
Do you want more non-sexual touch…to receive more oral sex (please say yes haha), to do sexual positions that are more comforting, to have sex in another part of the house?
And if you are struggling to source what you do want, think about what you don’t like about sex and imagine the opposite happening…it’s a little hack I like.
Lastly, when it comes to your partner with the ‘high libido’ – ask them if there is something that they need that they are denying themselves. Maybe there is an aspect of their life that they are unhappy about or stressed about that isn’t sexual but they are hoping sex will make them feel better. It might, but if the underlying problem is still there, then they won’t be feeling progress or a sense of resolution. Just a possibility.
Now that we have established that you do have a high libido and a few ways that you could step out a little in your own sex life, let’s talk your partner.
Please know that what I am about to say is very general – ‘cos I don’t know every person that reads this.
Partners with high libidos
I know you love sex and your sexual expression. I’m not here to change that or ask you to tone it down. Could I ask you to reflect on a few things though?
Are you self-pleasuring? It’s a healthy way of releasing and expressing yourself so that your partner isn’t your sole source of ‘sexual release’. On that note, sex isn’t purely sexual release/getting off. I say that because I have seen one too many women that feel like their partner’s sex toy and it doesn’t motivate her to have sex. At all.
What are your intentions for sex? What brings you back to it? If it is to release anger or another feeling that has you feeling frustrated or less than, your partner will pick up on that and could feel a little used. Instead, are you coming into sex to forge your bond? To create a unique experience? To adore your partner and have her adore you back?
Tapping into an honourable intention or a loving intention sets the tone for sex.
Is your relationship being nourished in other ways? All other types of touch and affection being neglected usually leads to a starving woman. And rather than her starvation leading her to have sex, she actually retreats. Nurture the other forms of intimacy and acknowledgment and it will increase the likelihood that she will want to give to you in a sexual context. Women get bitter when they don’t feel acknowledged or their love languages aren’t met (google it).
Speaking of love languages, if you do know what I am talking about…Sex is not a love language.
Nope. Sex is not a love language. If it was, the only way you would feel loved by your relatives would be to… well, let’s not go there!
If you see touch as a love language and then think – oh, I like sex so I must like touch and that is my love language…there is a key difference. People whose love language is touch feel SO rejected when touch is missing from interactions (where appropriate) and when they are touched, they feel loved. Other people don’t care for it so much. Some people even hate touch and shirk away from it entirely.
If touch is your love language, you’ll know because it will feel painful for you if there is an absence of affectionate, healing, sensual, erotic and sexual touch in your relationship. When touch is your love language, you are open to touch nearly ALL the time (I know, it’s my husbands love language).
As a partner to a woman who you now see actually has a high libido…how can you help her?
#1 Don’t pressure her to have sex. Don’t nag her to have sex. It will put her off and she will want to do it less. Instead, invite her to receive touch from you. That’s it. Let her choose what she would like to receive and see if it moves into the sexual from there (but, no pressure).
#2 Let her know how this is becoming problematic for you if you are in a sexual desert. She will be more likely to receive the message if it centres around how you feel, not about getting off/release. Go back to those intentions we covered earlier. What is it you want to feel with her?
#3 Support her to have a nourishing life. What really drains her or stresses her out and how can you help either directly or indirectly? Is there some hands on stuff for your shared life and household that you have gotten kind of lazy on. Would you both be willing to invest in a cleaner once/fortnight to lighten the load of obligation? What did the two of you do in the beginning of the relationship that you don’t anymore?
Back to you.
Are you living a libidinous life? Are there tweaks that you need to make so that you are feeling juiced up and not high wired in stress, only to discharge all of that through orgasm and ejaculation (really common to get caught in that loop by the way!)
What are your own outlets besides sex…working out, catching up with friends, playing games, reading…whatever turns you on!
Look out for you and look out for each other. Keep both of your libidos on your radar. Maybe keep a calendar in the kitchen of all the things you are doing individually and as a couple to live a libidinous life. That way, when you see a long block of time that is devoid of fun, pleasure and enjoyment, you know that you need to inject a little dose of something there.
I got all my fingers and toes crossed for you both to acknowledge each others libido’s and that they have more of a desire now to come together in the sexual sense and, actually all the senses!
Keep the communication lines open, flow with giving and receiving and the love and nourishment has a much better chance of thriving.
P.S. Even though you know now that you don't have a low libido, you may still require a little extra help sourcing your mojo. We all need a little help, even sexologists!! If you need some friendly support, honest feedback and a good dose of accountability when it comes to investing in your relationship then I am here to help (obviously). The only way I can serve your personal concerns confidentially is through 1.1 sessions. I promise it isn't scary, it's actually really mojovating (I may have made that word up). All the details to book your introductory session are here. AND...
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT :: FROM THE 19TH JUNE TO THE 8TH OF JULY, 10% OF ALL SESSION PAYMENTS (after fees + taxes) RECEIVED WILL BE DONATED TO THE AUSTRALASIAN BIRTH TRAUMA ASSOCIATION IN RECOGNITION OF BIRTH TRAUMA AWARENESS WEEK.
This is an organisation I love to support for everything they are doing to help mamas navigate their personal experiences in safety and with kindness. If you ever needed a little bit more of a nudge to step forward, know that you helping you is helping women help women. I love that!
**Parts of this blog are lovingly influenced by two of my favourite reads.
Nagoski, E. (2015) Come as you are.
Vitti, A. (2013) Woman Code.