The Facts about Mismatched Desire
- A man's sexual interest typically peaks at age 18, a woman's peaks at 30
- Arousal and desire are not necessarily the same quality.
- Desire is a mental issue which typically involves a thought. e.g. "He turns me on", "She lights my fire".
- Arousal involves having physically pleasurable sensations and is not necessarily accompanied by desire.
- Desire is not necessary for good sex.
- 31% of couples surveyed reported a discrepancy between partners desire for sex.
- Some people enjoy morning sex, some people enjoy night time sex.
- Some people value the quantity of sex, some people value the quality of sex.
Common Difficulties With Mismatched Desire
- One partner makes the other partner wrong, and this leads to resentment and bitter defensiveness --> FIGHTS!
- The person with the higher libido seeks sexual relief with sexual practices which do NOT fit with their partner's values. e.g. pornographic material, brothels, table top dancing.
Common Obstacles to Solving Sex-Drive Conflicts
- People don't know how to talk about sex. Feedback and requests are seen as criticism or nagging and result in defensiveness.
- People don't know WHEN to talk about sex. They bring it up during sex and either start World War Three or suddenly lose all interest.
- People get 'plugged in' to what they think is normal. Some couples have sex twice a week but it's boring. Others have sex once a month and they 'swing from the chandeliers by the pubes' and love it!
Your Step-by-Step Program to Overcoming Sex Drive Conflicts
Learn good communication skills! Study books or take a course on how to speak with 'I messages', acknowledge your partner's point of view before pushing forth your own, listen empathically and don't criticise, blame or label (e.g. "That's stupid, you never want sex")
Timing is everything! Never have 'deep and meaningfuls' during sex or at night. Your bio-rhythms change at night and you're liable to say things you'll regret.
What is normal?
Accept that 'normal' is what's good for both of you, and don't try and compare it with, or try to keep up with others – especially the glossy magazines.
'Normal' needs to be negotiated between you, based on your lifestyle pace, and individual libido. Negotiate the appropriate ways for him/her to 'let off steam'. It should be okay to self-masturbate and ask for oral and hand 'relief' from your partner. Get clear on what's acceptable regarding other practices. Some women don't mind their men viewing prono, some women feel betrayed.
NOTE: it's never okay to seek sex with another person when you are already in a committed relationship. Monogamy is the best basis for the best sex.
John rarely initiated sex, and Lisa was frustrated that she was always the one to ask. John reassured Lisa that he did want to make love – he just did not think of it first. So John agreed that he'd never reject her, so long as Lisa was happy to 'get the ball rolling'.
Sally was happy with sex once a month, but Will wanted it every day, preferably twice a day! They went together for sex therapy, and Sally agreed to have sex twice a week – one long one (where she could enjoy an orgasm) and one 'quickie' (where Will would enjoy an orgasm). Sally also agreed that it was OK for Will to masturbate at any time by himself, and once a week she would participate too. However, it was not okay with Sally for Will to watch porno movies.
© Dr Janet Hall
Getting The Love You Want: A Guide for Couples - Harville Hendrix
Living and Loving Together - Bob Montgomery