What Is Sexual Desire Discrepancy, and How Can a Couple Manage It?
Sexual desire discrepancy occurs when one person in a couple experiences more sexual desire or interest than their partner. This phenomenon is also known as desire disparity or libido mismatch, and it is common in romantic relationships. At times, it may lead to frustration, tension, or conflicts in the relationship. Fortunately, there are some things that a couple can do to handle sexual desire discrepancy in a healthy way.
First, and perhaps most importantly, the couple should practice open and honest communication. Both partners should be able to openly discuss their desires, concerns, and boundaries as well as maintain a safe and non-judgmental environment for these conversations. This behavior is important for conversations of all topics, but especially for those that revolve around sex and intimacy since they are highly sensitive and personal matters.
If desire discrepancy is a consistent issue in your relationship, it is a good idea to seek professional help. Consider consulting a therapist or counselor who specializes in sexual issues or couples therapy. A trained professional can provide guidance and practical strategies to address desire discrepancy.
Consulting with a primary care provider or sexual medicine specialist may also be beneficial because it can help couples get to the root of the problem if there is a medical reason for one partner’s low libido. Libido can be impacted by hormonal imbalances, certain medications, chronic medical conditions, and/or psychological factors. Determining the cause of one’s low libido and taking action to address it may help with desire discrepancy.
Another important principle for managing sexual desire discrepancy is compromise. Try to find a middle ground that both partners can agree on, perhaps by scheduling time for sex or experimenting in the bedroom. This may involve finding a frequency of sexual activity that works for both, trying new things in the bedroom, or exploring other forms of intimacy such as giving one another massages or cuddling. Of course, it is imperative that every sexual encounter remain consensual, so if one person is not in the mood to have sex, they should not feel pressured to do so regardless of the circumstances.
Building a stronger emotional connection can help bridge the gap in sexual desire. When couples spend quality time together, show affection to one another, and support each other through hard times, they can work on strengthening their emotional bond.
For the individual in the relationship who has the higher libido, masturbation can be a good option. Masturbation provides many of the same benefits of partnered sex, and it can help a person relieve stress, relax, experience sexual pleasure, and release sexual tension.
Lastly, when dealing with sexual desire discrepancy, it is crucial to practice patience and understanding. Keep in mind that desire is not stagnant; it can fluctuate over time, and it is completely normal for couples to have periods of desire discrepancy. Luckily, with effort, understanding, and communication, couples can find ways to manage and navigate this issue successfully.
- Vowels, L. M., & Mark, K. P. (2020). Strategies for Mitigating Sexual Desire Discrepancy in Relationships. Archives of sexual behavior, 49(3), 1017–1028. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-020-01640-y