Ever been in a relationship where it seemed like you were on completely different pages about sex? Maybe they’re constantly nervous, turning you down or complaining it isn’t steamy enough. Everyone has a different type of sex drive, and figuring out your partner’s type will make your life a whole lot easier — and your sex a whole lot better.
Psychologist Sandra Pertot developed a model of 10 unique libido types, based on the relationships people have with sex. Pertot believes that understanding your type can help you develop greater sexual compatibility in your relationship — which means no more staring at the calendar, trying to remember the last time you had sex, and no more yelling “I can’t believe you want sex now!”
Sensual Lovers Prioritise Connection
Core Belief: “I don’t care about sexual gymnastics as much as I care about my partner being present and emotionally available.”
Key characteristics: Sensual lovers use sex as a way to feel connected to their partners. They’re flexible, kind and generous in the sack, so long as they can feel their partner’s presence. If they’re feeling unloved or disconnected, you can forget about getting into their pants.
If your partner is Sensual: Ask your partner what emotional intimacy means to them. If you’re clueless about what it means to be present, try exploring meditation, yoga or mindfulness. If you can show your partner that you’re interested in exploring sexuality with them, they will be pretty open to indulging your interests. Consider yourself a lucky SOB.
Erotic Lovers Need to Feel the Heat
Core Belief: “Sex is only good if it’s passionate and intense.”
Key characteristics: Erotic lovers want Titanic-style hand-against-the-steamy-window intensity during sex. Sometimes it can be hard for them to recognise that there are other ways of having sex (like the less fun but ever-important maintenance sex). Erotic types can have bunny-rabbit like libidos, but they tend to prefer quality over quantity. They may believe that sex is the most important part of a romantic relationship.
If your partner is Erotic: Erotic types can be dynamos in the bedroom, so you may be in for the ride of your life. But you may also have to help your partner recognise that you can have great sex without cranking it to 11 every single time. You may also need to remind your partner that sex isn’t the only wonderful part of your relationship.
Dependent Lovers Use Sex as Stress Relief
Core belief: “I need sex to cope with my life.”
Key characteristics: Dependent types rely on sex to serve as their primary stress relief. Forget about therapy, breathing exercises, or even a stiff drink; sex is the only thing that actually creates relief. They can become withdrawn and angry if they haven’t had regular sex.
If your partner is Dependent: Odds are your partner will want sex regularly and want you to be an enthusiastic participant. It can be a lot of fun to blow off some steam with a roll in the hay, but you may eventually feel drained by the constant pressure to have sex. Sex also runs the risk of being impersonal if you feel like your partner is thinking more about their jerk of a boss than they are about you. You can share these fears and encourage your partner to learn other coping mechanisms.
Entitled Lovers Want What They Want
Core belief: “I deserve to get what I want in the bedroom.”
Key characteristics: Entitled types place a lot of value on their own desires and may not understand the notion of compromise. At times, they believe that their desires are more important than the desires of their partners, and they can be pushy or demanding when they don’t get what they want.
I think Pertot gets a little judgey with this character type (and it isn’t the only one). Not all Entitled types are the jerks she makes them out to be. Some people simply have a firm belief that sex is important, and they are willing to advocate for their needs. Others come more from a fear-based place that is rooted in “Keeping Up With The Joneses-Itis”; they worry that everyone else is having a better sex life than they are.
If your partner is Entitled: Help your partner understand that you value your sex life too, and that the two of you can work together to create a sex life that fulfils both of your desires.
Addictive Lovers Have a Hard Time Saying “No”
Core belief: “I can’t resist any opportunity to have sex.”
Key characteristics: Addictive types can find it hard to turn down sexual advances or opportunities, even if they’re in a monogamous relationship. They can get fixated on the allure of a new sexual partner (but let’s face it, who doesn’t?) They tend to be sensitive to rejection.
Pertot doesn’t make the distinction between Addictive types who cheat secretly, and those who recognise that monogamy isn’t the right relationship model for them. This is a frustrating omission.
If your partner is Addictive: If you’ve been cheated on, you may have to make the painful decision on whether to stay or go. If you’re with someone who expresses a desire to have an open or polygamous relationship, you’ll want to figure out if those relationship models will work for you.
Reactive Lovers Put Their Partner First
Core belief: “Pleasing my partner is what gets me hot under the collar.”
Key characteristics: Reactive types get off on making their partners the centre of attention. Pertot divides this category into two sub-types: those that genuinely enjoy making sex all about their partner, and those that self-sacrifice their own pleasure as a means to keep their partner satisfied. There’s a big difference!
If your partner is Reactive: Try to help your significant other get a sense of their motivations for sex. Are they truly aroused by your satisfaction? Or are there times where they are being too giving? Regardless of their sub-type, you can try to help your partner recognise that their pleasure is important too. Tell your partner: “I love getting you off too! And sometimes it’s fun if we can both be the stars of the show together.”
Stressed Lovers Avoid Sex
Core belief: “I want sex, but I steer clear because I worry I can’t please my partner.”
Key characteristics: Most people develop Stressed libido types in reaction to a particularly difficult period in their life or relationship. Things may have been fine before, but somewhere along the line they lost their confidence in their sexual abilities and no longer know what they want. Stressed libido types can feel an enormous amount of performance pressure and anxiety. The old “picture your audience naked” trick doesn’t work here. Some Stressed types feel anxious if their partner tries to initiate any sort of sexual contact.
If your partner is Stressed: Your partner might need some help figuring out the specific sexual dynamics they feeling anxious about. Ask your significant other questions such as “what do you think I expect from you?” Clear up any misconceptions they may have, and try to be sensitive about not putting too much pressure on them. It might feel like walking on eggshells for a bit.
Disinterested Lovers Aren’t Big Fans of Sex in the First Place
Core belief: “I wouldn’t care if I never had sex again.”
Key characteristics: Disinterested types are just not that into you (and by “you” I mean “sex”). Some Disinterested types may feel fine “going along” with their partner’s sexual initiations, and might even enjoy themselves during sex, but they don’t desire sex on their own. Pertot doesn’t explicitly mention asexuality, but some Disinterested types may identify as asexual.
If your partner is Disinterested: Two Disinterested partners tend to be great together, as sex is not a priority for either of them. If your partner is Disinterested and you’re not, things can get a bit trickier. Some Disinterested types may be fine with throwing you a bone every once in a while, but it may not be enough. You may have to make some tough decisions about the future of your relationship.
Detached Lovers Are Reacting to Stress
Core belief: “I’d rather be masturbating.”
Key characteristics: The Detached personality tends to be more temporary than any of the other personalities. Detached types feel sexual desire but just aren’t interested in partnered sex. Their lack of interest is usually a reaction to life or relationship stress, which causes the person to pull away from their partner. Did you cheat on your partner? Yeah, they’re probably not going to be so interested in sex with you for a while.
If your partner is Detached: Help your partner get curious about when and why they started pulling away from sex. What was going on in their life and your relationship at that time? The answer may be obvious, or it may be less clear. Ask them if there are ways that you can be a supportive partner.
Compulsive Partners Are All About the Details
Core belief: “I need to have [fill in the blank] in order to get turned on.”
Key characteristics: Compulsive types have specific fetishes and fantasies that they need in order to feel desire. Some Compulsive types like bringing their partners in on the fantasy (having them wear those sky-high heels), while others like to go it alone (chilling with said heels alone).
I find the name “Compulsive” a little judgmental; many people have perfectly healthy relationships with their sexual fantasies.
If your partner is Compulsive: You have to decide for yourself if you feel comfortable bringing your partner’s fantasies into the bedroom with the two of you, but please don’t ever shame another person for their turn-ons. If you can be open and willing, your partner will probably be thrilled to help you enact your own fantasies.
Is there one certain type with which type you most identify? Or do you feel like you’re a combination of several types? If you’re currently in a relationship, do you think you’re with a compatible type?