Not Sexually Compatible: What To Do When Your Sex Drive Doesn’t Match Your Partner

What if your sex drive doesn’t match your partner? Can the relationship still work in the long run? Is it… doom to fail or is there hope?

I was in a 4 year long relationship with a woman I thought I was going to marry one day. We had an amazing connection emotionally, and we were also each other’s best friend and confidant.

Yet, we struggled with a problem that eventually became the main reason we ended the relationship: we were sexually incompatible.

Once we got past the initial dating honeymoon stage where we couldn’t get enough of each other, it started becoming obvious that we had very different sex drives and sexual needs.

I wanted (needed!) regular sex and didn’t need more foreplay to get me going; she had a much lower libido and sex wasn’t on her mind as much as it was on mine. We weren’t totally sexless and we still maintained physical closeness through touch and hugs, but it wasn’t enough to meet my needs.

Eventually, I stopped trying to initiate intimacy because I got tired of being turned down. The feeling of rejection was too real!

Related: 5 Things You Can Do If You Have No Sex Drive After Baby

different sex drives in a relationship
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Different sex drives in a relationship

If you are in a similar situation where your sex drive doesn’t match your partner, does it mean that your relationship is doomed to fail? Of course not, according to Dr. Clare MacKenzie, a certified sex and relationship therapist. Here are her tips on how you can deal with different sex drives in a relationship:

Having mismatched libido and different sex drives is very common in relationships, especially if you have been together with this person for a long amount of time. However, just because something is common and normal doesn’t mean that we need to resign to fate.

Related: 9 Things You Can Do If There Is No Spontaneity In Your Sex Life

What to do when your sex drive doesn’t match your partner?

Start with asking and answering tough questions

If you and your partner are invested in finding an answer around your different sex drives, then it starts with being open to communication and putting in actual work.

Yes, talking about your sexual needs and desires (or lack thereof) can be intimidating for some people, especially if they are not used to expressing their emotions. But it is important for both you and your partner to talk about it, which also encourages intimacy through emotional sharing.

Maybe one of you is struggling with internal insecurity around looks, or dealing with a lot of stress from work or family. Maybe there is a need for mental health help with a therapist first. Through communicating, you can find out if the reason behind the lower sex drive is due to external factors.

If both of you are willing to get past the initial awkwardness of opening up, then you both will be able to understand how often each of you want to have sex, and the boundaries and limitations around each other’s needs.

One of the things that I talked about with that ex was whether we wanted to open our relationship so that I could have my sexual needs met outside of our relationship. Even though we eventually decided that non-monogamy wouldn’t work for us, at least we gave that conversation a go.

intimacy in a relationship
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Yes, you can be emotionally attracted to someone, but not sexually (yet)

Sometimes, someone might love and adore their partner, but might not be sexually attracted to them. It can be a difficult situation and a rather taboo one.

The fact is, some people take time to develop a physical or sexual attraction with a partner, as they need to get to know each other mentally and emotionally first. That “spark” or clicking with somebody is more of a mental or emotional connection than a physical one.

But what if you both have given the relationship time and there is still no sexual attraction or there is still a huge gap in sex drive?

If you believe that this might be the case for you or your partner, then it is important to have a conversation around what your and their needs are in a relationship, and if you both are willing to value other things in the relationship besides sex.

Also read: How To Peg Someone (And Why It Should Be On Your Sex Bucket List!)

Understand what affects intimacy in a relationship

Another reason why one partner might be experiencing a lower sex drive than the other, especially if it is a recent change, might be due to a perceived lack of intimacy in the relationship.

Since sex is often more than just meeting a physical need, it is important to build intimacy in the other areas on your relationship. Working on your emotional intimacy, intellectual intimacy, and experiential intimacy are important as they encourage physical intimacy.

Emotional intimacy looks like an uninhibited sharing of personal feelings with each other, and you both feel like the other understands and cares about your emotional needs. When one partner feels like the other never listens, belittled, or there is an emotional disconnect, it can affect their sexual desires and lower their sex drive.

Intellectual intimacy happens when partners can communicate beliefs and viewpoints without a fear of conflict. Since both of you have the freedom to think for yourself and both opinions matter, having intellectual intimacy encourages stimulating conversation. There is no need to be “right”, and you both can enjoy a debate around a topic just to hear the other person’s rationale.

Experiential intimacy are those shared moments, inside jokes and private memories. Shared experiences establish a feeling of closeness, which encourages physical intimacy and sexual desires.

What you and your partner can do to increase intimacy in a relationship

When your sex drive doesn’t match your partner, it is important to also consider other areas of intimacy in your relationship. Can you both be fully open and vulnerable, or is there often a consequence attached?

Work on aligning your emotional, intellectual and experiential intimacies, communicate, and be curious to understand what makes each other tick.

increase intimacy in a relationship
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What to do when your partner rejects you sexually

Sex is an important part of intimacy in a relationship for many people, but not everyone feels the same way about sex. It can be difficult not to take rejections personally, especially when you have experienced being rejected by your partner more than once.

Back to what we mentioned earlier about communicating your needs, if you are feeling rejected after your partner rejects you sexually, it is important to communicate your sexual needs and how you felt after the rejection.

However, remember that even if your partner does not want to be sexually intimate, it does not always mean that there is something wrong with you, your partner, or your relationship.

If you used to have sex but now don’t, then it might be down to these reasons:

  • Your partner might be experiencing stress in other areas of their lives, for example at work
  • There might be a new health condition or new medication that is affecting the libido
  • A recent or even a past trauma that is affecting their desire for intimacy
  • A drop in energy levels
  • A fear or embarrassment, whether it is over their sexual performance or their bodies

Working through different sex drives in a relationship and a difference in sexual compatibility can be frustrating for both parties, which is why having a conversation is the only way forward. It does not need to mean the end of a relationship if your sex drive doesn’t match your partner.

Also Read: How To Use Nipple Clamps For The First Time (Plus The Best Nipple Clamps We Love)

Because pleasure gets better the more you know what you like and need! Learn more about women sexual wellness, self pleasure tips, and more.