Managing Mismatched Libidos In Your Relationship

When was the last time you and your partner had sex? Do you feel like your partner constantly rejects you? Do you feel like your partner is pestering you for sex too often? You and your partner may have mismatched libidos.

When a couple struggles with mismatched sexual desires, one partner wants sex more than the other. Sometimes the difference in libido is slight and doesn’t cause much conflict, but if one or both partners develops resentment, mismatched libidos can derail a relationship. A desire discrepancy can exist from the beginning, but it can also develop over time.

If you’ve worked to build a sexual mindset and embrace your right to pleasure, but you and your partner have mismatched libidos, you may worry about your relationship’s longevity. This blog will cover why mismatched libidos cause relationship problems and give you practical tips for navigating a desire discrepancy in your life.

Is My Sex Drive Normal?

Whether you want sex every day, once a week, or never your sex drive is normal. Often a higher sex drive partner will feel their need for frequent sex means there is something wrong with them. On the other hand, a low libido person may feel they are broken. This stress can affect both your relationship and your mental health.

In addition to low and high sex drives being normal, it’s common for your libido to change throughout your life. Long-term relationships remove much of the mystery that ignites your libido early on, and life changes can cause you to experience different levels of desire.

Some people have spontaneous sexual desire – where they don’t need much to get going, and others have responsive desire. If you have responsive desire, your brain doesn’t realize it’s ready for sex until you’ve already had some sexual stimulation. People with responsive sexual desire often say they never regret having sex with their partner; they don’t think to initiate it.

While there’s no inherent problem with lower sex drives, if your libido is lower than you’d like, talking to your doctor may help. Some medical conditions, side effects of medications, and hormonal changes can impact your sexual desire.

Are Mismatched Libidos Bad for Our Relationship?

Having different levels of sexual desire does not mean your relationship is doomed. Every relationship has challenges to navigate. Those challenges may be ever-present or may change over time. What’s important is how you and your partner handle difficult situations.

Talking about sex is often challenging. We carry a lot of baggage about sex from our upbringing and societal pressures, which can cause us to react defensively. Here are some tips for discussing mismatched libidos with your partner.

  • Understand that your sexual desire is not your partner’s problem. If you want sex more often than they do, you have to find some ways to meet your own needs.
  • Speak about your experience without blaming your partner.
  • Discuss your sex life when you’re both calm. Pick a time and place where you’ll both be free from distractions.
  • Be honest about your need for sexual intimacy.
  • Never pressure your partner for sexual activity.
  • If you turn your partner down, do so gently.
  • Get curious about your partner’s sexual needs and wants and what you need and want.

How Can We Navigate Mismatched Sexual Desire?

If you’re reading this far you’re probably hoping for a way to “fix” your mismatched desire problem. Our strategies focus on improving your intimacy and relationship without trying to “fix” one partner’s libido. If you want to improve your libido, start with some work around your sexual mindset.

Work with your partner to create a toolbox of strategies for handling your mismatched libido so you can continue to enjoy your intimate connection. Here are some suggestions to get you started.


It’s not your partner’s job to meet all of your sexual needs. If you’re the higher libido partner, you may need to ensure you schedule time for solo pleasure to take care of urges when your partner is unavailable.

If your partner has a higher sed drive than you, it’s essential to give them time and space for masturbation whenever they need it. Some people worry that if their partner masturbates too often, it will lower their desire for partnered sex. There’s no reason to be concerned about this. Taking care of your sexual urges is healthy.

Change Your Definition of Sex

There’s this idea out there that we have to have penetrative sex to be satisfied, and anything else is just foreplay. That’s a heteronormative view of sexuality we’re moving away from. If having sex means allowing someone to enter your body every time, you may not desire it as much.

Let’s change the definition of sex. Sex is a consensual, erotic exploring of bodies that brings pleasure to all participants. With that definition, you can have sex with or without a partner. You can enjoy sex without an orgasm.

Explore various ways of having sex with your partner, so the higher sex-drive person has their needs met, and the lower sex-drive partner doesn’t feel pressured. Ideas for sex that aren’t penetrative include:

  • solo or mutual masturbation
  • oral sex
  • using your hands and fingers
  • including sex toys

Include Plenty of Non-Sexual Touches

If your partner has high sexual desire and a love language of physical touch, you must attempt to meet some of their need for physical affection in ways that feel good to you. Try offering cuddling sessions, massages, or shared showers to increase the amount of intimate touch you give your partner.

Schedule Sex

Scheduling sex is common advice for couples struggling to connect because it works. However, even scheduling sex can feel overwhelming for the lower libido partner when you have a mismatched libido. So, schedule sex opportunities instead. These are times you and your partner plan to lay together naked or partially naked and explore each other with conversation or intimate touch. Sure, it may lead to sex – but that’s not the goal.

Listen to or Read Erotica

If you’re a lower libido partner and have trouble getting in the mood for your scheduled or spontaneous sex sessions, try listening to or reading erotica beforehand. Many people find sexy stories or even porn can stimulate their responsive sexual desire.

Take Turns Initiating

When you’re the higher libido partner in a relationship with mismatched sexual desire, it can feel like you’re always asking for sex and getting rejected. That rejection can affect self-esteem and how you show up in the relationship. We all want to feel wanted by the person we choose to love.

To help the higher libido partner feel desired, both partners need to take turns initiating sex. The initiating doesn’t have to be equal – and you don’t need to keep score – but if you’re the partner who has a more challenging time getting in the mood, try to initiate sexual activity when you’re able.

Get Help Solving Your Mismatched Libido Problems

A satisfying sex life is vital to your well-being and the health of your relationship. If one or both of you aren’t getting the physical intimacy you crave, and you’re struggling to talk about it in constructive ways and solution-focused, seeking help from a sex therapist may help.

A sex therapist can help you and your partner develop communication skills so you can handle even the most sensitive conversations as a team. If you’re ready to get help with creating deeper intimacy in your relationship, reach out today and schedule your FREE Intimacy Recovery Discovery Call. We’ll help you clarify your sexual and relationship issues and make a plan for moving forward toward the sex life of your dreams.

If you haven’t yet, click here to download the Intimacy Recovery Checklist and begin your journey toward better intimacy, stronger relationships, and hotter sex.

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