Do you miss your old sex life? Think back to the early days, when sexual tension lingered every time you and your lover met eyes. What was once fiery, new and exciting is now slow, tired and frustratingly infrequent. What changed?
Was it simply the passing of time, reduced levels of hormones, or the fact that sex with your partner has lost its novelty? Perhaps your kids, a demanding job and a hefty mortgage have also been getting in the way. Whatever the explanation, one painful truth is clear: your partner no longer wants sex as much as you do.
A ‘sexual mismatch’ or ‘desire discrepancy’ is what we call it when one partner’s sexual appetite is larger than the other’s. This situation is incredibly common, especially for people who have been together for a long time.
Nonetheless, a desire discrepancy can cause big problems in the relationship: often the person who wants sex more often is left feeling insulted, rejected or unwanted. In some cases, this may lead him (or her) to look for sexual satisfaction elsewhere.
Are Men More Sexual Than Women?
Research shows that men tend to be more enthusiastic about sex than women. For example, they think about having sex and become aroused out of the blue more frequently. Men also masturbate more often and tend to be more open toward the idea of having casual sex.
Does this mean that all men are drooling sex maniacs? Of course not – some women have extremely high sex drives and some men prefer to be intimate in other ways. But statistically speaking, it’s the man that is more likely to be asking for sex.
What Causes a Desire Discrepancy?
Sex is a complex act: physically, emotionally and even spiritually. This means that your sex drive can be influenced by so many interacting factors. Your physical health, for example, is important to consider. Have you ever felt horny and nauseas at the same time? Not impossible; but highly unlikely. If you’re not physically healthy your sex drive can easily suffer.
Similarly, if you have a psychological disorder such as anxiety or depression, you find that you are rarely in the mood for sex. Even normal stress or an exhausting day in the office is enough to make you feel like you’d rather just have an early night. And don’t forget that some medications – including anti-depressants – can also cause a loss of libido.
What about your relationship? Like most therapists, when working with couples I always ask about their sex life, at the risk of having a few awkward moments. Why? Relationship problems that aren’t discussed openly may play out in the form of a desire discrepancy. If someone feels upset, unheard or resentful in the relationship, they may unconsciously withdraw from sex. This sends out a powerful message to their partner that something needs to change and often this is simply a matter of openly discussing what’s going on.
How To Restore Your Partner’s Sexual Desire
#1 Work on the Relationship
Understanding the relationship factors that underlie your desire discrepancy often takes some psychological detective work. You may want to consult with a psychologist or sex therapist, but you can also explore these sorts of issues at home with your partner. Remember to talk, think, feel and talk it out some more. A healthy sexual relationship is built on trust, empathy and communication.
#2 Treat Your Sexual Dysfunction (If You Have One)
If you suffer from a sexual dysfunction, this can affect your partner and the relationship in many ways. For example, in the case of Premature Ejaculation (PE), a recent study showed that women dating someone with this disorder are 77.7% more likely to struggle with their own sexual functioning. Furthermore, two thirds of the women believed that it was their man’s PE causing their own reduced libido.
Why was this the case? With PE, sexual encounters are briefer than normal, which means that you and your partner simply have less of a chance to connect in a way that’s sexually intimate. On top of this, your own premature ejaculation may lead your partner to feel guilty, inadequate or disappointed – feelings which can put a damper on her own sex drive.
What does this all mean? Quite simply, restoring your partner’s sexual excitement may be as simple as getting some help with your own sexual dysfunction. Fixing premature ejaculation is a very real possibility if you receive the right treatment.
#3 Think About Your Lifestyle
If you and your partner have an unhealthy lifestyle this may be contributing to your poor sex life. In this case, encourage your partner to work with you in bringing about a lifestyle that promotes sexual intimacy. For best results, do this together as a team effort: make a healthy lifestyle one of your relationship goals.
Exercise is a great place to start. For example, a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine showed that just twenty minutes of daily exercise is enough to increase the levels of sensitivity and arousal in women’s bodies and genitals. This may be because having a run, for example, increases blood flow and expands your blood vessels. But exercise also makes it easier to have sex because it improves your self-esteem and confidence about the way you look!
#5 Reduce Stress and Fatigue
Stress is a major culprit that can squash libido quicker than your mother-in-law wearing a stained apron. For example, this study showed that high levels of a stress hormone (cortisol) can stop a woman from having an orgasm. Exercise is itself a great stress reliever. But other strategies for lifting your partners sex drive include meditation, yoga, or simply taking time to have a romantic dinner where you are separated from the pressures of work and home.
If you find that you want sex more often than your partner, remember that you are not alone. The desire discrepancy is a very real phenomenon that can cause stress and tension (of the wrong sort) in even the strongest of relationships. The good news is that you have the power to make things change. This may be a matter of working on your relationship, building a better lifestyle, or simply getting some help for your own sexual dysfunction.
If you really want to spark up your sex life why not try do all three of these; and don’t forget to keep talking to your partner about what’s going on. Healthy patterns of communication where you are in touch with your partner’s needs and wants is a great place to start if you want a healthier and more fulfilling sex life.
Daniel Sher is a registered clinical psychologist. He serves as a professional consultant for the Between Us Clinic, which provides sex-therapy online programs for men and couples experiencing premature ejaculation.