What to do when you and your partner have different sex drives

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Physical intimacy can be an essential part of a fulfilling relationship. But, what happens when only one of you has a bigger hunger for sex?

Kati Dijane looks at ways you can be sexually satisfied, even with different libidos.

One in five women is unhappy with her sex life, and in general, only 17% are very satisfied. That is according to a survey among women aged 30 and 80, conducted by the Daily Mail and Lloyds Pharmacy in 2002 and published by IOL in May 2017. It also revealed that 1 in 10 women have sex only once a year at most, and 10% at least once a week.

Dr Elmari Mulder Craig, a sexologist and relationship expert based in Pretoria, says there are biological factors that can affect your sex drive, including hormones such as low testosterone in both men and women. Low testosterone can result in a low sex drive. Fortunately, low levels can be treated by a doctor. She adds that your sex drive could be low because of chronic medication you may be taking. “Anti-depressants, cholesterol, blood pressure medication and contraceptive pills could have an impact on your sex drive. So, consult your doctor,” she says.

Dr Elmari warns of the importance of distinguishing between a different sex drive among couples, and hypersexual disorder or addiction. The latter means that you often have an insatiable desire to constantly have sex, which can be problematic and strenuous in the relationship. Cape Town sexologist Dr Marlene Wasserman, popularly known as Dr Eve, also mentions other factors to consider. These include your psychological association with sex, how you were brought up, religious background as well as the positive or negative associations you have towards sex. “The actual relationship you have with your partner can also contribute to how you relate sexually with them,” she adds.

Balancing the L word

While Dr Eve says everyone has the natural need to satisfy their appetite for sex, you can determine how much of it you want or need. Mbali Vilakazi from Spruitview, East Rand, reveals that her libido is higher than that of her boyfriend. “I’ve always loved having sex; I don’t mind it every day. My boyfriend, whom I’ve been living with for two years, often complains that I want too much sex. He doesn’t mind going without if for days, and if I don’t initiate, he seems to not think about it. This used to bother me because I thought he was either cheating or didn’t find me attractive. But, he assured me that he just didn’t have the same sexual desires as mine. Even in the early stages of our relationship, he never initiated anything sexual; I have always been the one who takes the lead. I have accepted this part of our relationship and appreciate the effort he makes to please me in other areas and when we make love. Most days, I masturbate to keep myself sexually satisfied,” she explains.

Dr Elmari says this is a case of different sexual desires. “Mbali’s partner has to determine the reasons his sex drive is low, from physical factors to other reasons, such as stress or unresolved issues. Once they have figured out possible reasons as a couple, they can support each other.” She adds that while masturbation is one solution, they must look into other intimate ways other than penetration to engage sexually, such as foreplay or oral sex. “Ultimately, couples have to find a mutual ground to be happy. And in Mbali’s case, she feels more secure that he’s not having an affair while he’s accepted that she has a higher sex drive, which he makes up for when they get intimate. It’s all about compromise.”

SEE ALSO: Your partner has cheated on you. Now what?

Spice it up

Don’t be hard on yourself if your sex drive is low. Take your time in unleashing the sex goddess in you. “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Embrace your sensuality and a full-body experience when you get intimate with your partner. Also, take turns in giving and receiving the pleasurable experiences that sex brings to the table, or in the bedroom,” Dr Elmari advises. She adds that everything boils down to communication in every aspect of your relationship, especially with sex. “Additionally, there are other ways to satisfy each other without or as you build up to penetration; focus on physical touch and courting each other. There’s no harm in masturbating if you have a high sex drive.” Dr Eve also advises that you use sex toys to bring back the fun and spice up your sex life. “If your low libido is a result of social conditioning, you have to reclaim your power and empower yourself sexually. It might be a difficult conversation to have with your man, but you have to be open and share what pleases you.”

Dr Elmari shares four ways you and your partner can revive your sex life:

  • It takes a woman about 20 minutes of stimulation to reach orgasm. And, only 20% of women can reach orgasm through penetration alone. Find ways to stimulate the clitoris while making love.
  • Think of ways that you will feel comfortable with to creatively initiate sex.
  • Experiment with new positions and other sex aids such as strawberries and cream, silk scarves or toys.
  • Try fantasising. Fantasy and erotic pictures are important to help you focus during sex. If you are not fully engaged, you may find your thoughts wondering to the million things you have to do the following day.

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