QJSex: Desire discrepancy

So you have this new beau/belle, and it’s been going great for the last couple of months or so, but lately you’ve been noticing it’s just … different. Whether it’s them who doesn’t seem to be into it as much, or maybe you, for reasons you can’t explain, your sex life is slowing down. Are you just not into each other? Did they find someone else?

This situation is all too common. While it’s very possible that time has revealed that you might be incompatible, or that a new and more exciting partner is clouding one of your minds, it’s also possible that you are experiencing desire discrepancy.

Although people in a relationship are separate individuals with distinct sexual appetites, the fact is that it takes two to tango. After a while, sex can become somewhat of a routine: same place, same time, same positions.

The novelty and excitement of a new relationship often masks imbalances in sex drives. When the relationship settles down, desire discrepancy (also known as “libido imbalance”) may become apparent and cause tension and frustration in a relationship. Many sex therapists say it’s the problem they actually encounter most frequently in their work!

Besides seeking professional therapy, here are a few strategies you can try that may prevent such an imbalance from eroding your relationship(s):

• Talk about the imbalance: Are you actually experiencing regular desire discrepancy, or are you just poorly communicating how stressed you are about that midterm this week?

• Communicate about what increases desire for sex: Maybe you’re both super stressed with school work, but this can affect you and your partner (s) differently. You might want sex more to deal with the stress, but your partner (s) might want it less to focus on their work. Talk about any unfulfilled needs to try and increase this desire, such as new positions, massages, non-sexual intimate contact or some quality alone time.

• Invite masturbation into your sex lives: This can serve as a “valve” that equalizes sexual pressure between partners with different sex drives, allowing the partner with a higher libido to relieve some of their sexual needs. The person with the lower sex drive may also find that personal exploration can help them discover new desires that their partner can fulfill to increase their level of desire.

• Understand individual boundaries: It’s understandable that everyone enters relationships with pre-conceived notions about what “sex” will entail. However, when this sex involves a partner, it must be negotiated to meet both persons’ desires in a respectful and fully consenting way.

• Don’t blame the other for their desire: Realize that the partner who wants more sex or less sex isn’t abnormal or “wrong”. A person who wants sex less often isn’t “frigid” and a person who wants sex more often isn’t a “nympho”.

Overall, it’s important not to make assumptions about your partner(s). Desire discrepancy can, understandably, cause considerable anxiety about one’s desirability and the future of the relationship. If you don’t discuss it, you may be missing out on an opportunity not just to repair your relationship, but to have an even better, more fulfilling sex life.

This blog is being run in conjunction with the Sexual Health Resource Centre, located in theJDUC, room 223. Follow them on Twitter @shrckingston.


desire discrepancy, Sex

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