Mismatched Sex Drives

Is there help for mismatched sex drives?


Yes, couples with unequal sex drives can be helped. This is the most common sexual issue in long-term relationships. While it’s romantic to think that sexual appetites and needs will always coincide, it’s simply not realistic over the long term.


The basis of treatment is honesty about your own sexual tastes and needs, as well as having realistic expectations for your partner. All relationships eventually face pressures from careers, family responsibilities, illness or accidents, medication side effects, or the lingering impact of childhood traumas. Appetites, levels of interest, motivation, sexual self-esteem, and physical responsiveness all change over time. When both partners agree with or readily adapt to these changes, the transition may be easy. For other couples, changes, such as reduced frequency, changes in sexual behaviors, or the need to avoid intercourse is a key challenge to the integrity of the relationship and one that, even in these times of sexual frankness, is rarely addressed with openness and honesty.


In our society, men and women are typically quite different in their sexual desires, fantasies, behaviors, and attitudes. It is charming to believe that love means becoming “one” in lasting sexual compatibility, but the truth is that individual needs differ over time. An open, respectful discussion of those differences, as well as recognition of common ground can minimize defensiveness and increase shared understanding and acceptance. It also forms the basis for collaborative problem-solving of sexual differences.


After I take a thorough history, your consultation, therapy, or coaching sessions with me usually involve addressing unhelpful influences (such as shame and performance concerns) and promotion of the perspective that sexual expression is a natural function. This approach more readily allows for insight and lessens the pressures on both partners, enabling them to share their emotions, consider their priorities, and plan to make sex playful again. We explore your feelings and reactions, prior experiences, and mutual expectations for the future. Communication both inside and outside of the bedroom is covered.


Tailored suggestions are offered on such topics as how to prioritize sex while reducing feelings of being pressured or less spontaneous. Creativity and fantasy, both valuable components of sexual sharing, are addressed, as well. Often, couples receive structured, progressively erotic “homework” suggestions. We also have a frank discussion about the role and appropriateness of masturbation, pornography, and erotica, such as Fifty Shades of Gray.


All of these methods commonly result in improved satisfaction with overall sexual adjustment in the relationship. The duration and frequency of therapy or coaching is individually tailored. The aim for therapy of mismatched sex drives are behavioral change and acceptance, each promoted according to your specific goals.


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