What do you think about when you hear the words, sex drive? Do you think about being with a partner or partners that are evenly matched? Maybe you think about a partner that enjoys all the same things or frequency in sexual connection you do. If so, your thinking might be line with societal norms by believing that a good relationship depends on having frequent sexual engagements. The fact of the matter is when it comes to sex drives, we might find that there are far more differences than we thought. Have you noticed sexual engagement within your relationship(s) experiencing a waxing and waning of frequency and desired engagement?
Sexual desire, commonly known as the libido; meaning this is driven by the thoughts or feelings that motivate someone to seek out sexual gratification. When we are in a relationship, the idea is that we or our partner will seek this out when the urge is present. This is because we develop a connection borne from both physical and psychological attachments. This grows as we become more enmeshed with our partner(s), building through touch, physical closeness by spending time together and you guessed it, sex. Our psychological connections build through spending time getting to know our partner by intimate conversations, sharing of ourselves and building trust. As we become trusting and vulnerable with our partner, that sexual desire and connection grows. You might have heard this called the “honeymoon phase” of a relationship and is often when sex is the most frequent but sets the tone for how we judge the success of our relationships later.
As we age our sexual desire grow and change with us, not just in frequency but in our likes and dislikes as well. Most individuals in their early years know and acknowledge their strong desire for the physical connection, but might automatically assume that middle age brings a decrease in activity and drive. Sex therapists, Zilbergeld and Ellison (1980) coined the descriptor “sexual desire discrepancy”. This means that the difficulty experienced within a coupledom may be related to nature of it rather than the pathology. Sexual desire may be affected by different factors present in daily life responsibilities and not as simple as whether you are ‘in the mood’.
Factors that can effect this change include but are not limited to life stressors (job, family, finances, etc.), or maybe physiological changes such as hormone levels depending on the life stage, physical illness or injury. Low or mismatched sexual desire can be difficult on not just the receiving partner, but on the partner experiencing low drive. Therefore, this is not always a single partner’s issue.
Sex is a complicated thing and can be difficult to measure, causing partners to not always see eye-to-eye. I would argue that emotional connection is just as much a contributing factor to differences in sex drives as those of the physiological. So what keeps the sexual desire alive for you and your partner(s)?
Is it the difference in how your partner provides support within the household to easy your stress after a long day? Is it dependent on the level of engagement when it comes to you or your partner engaging with the use of your 5 Love Languages? Have you or your partner noticed physiological changes? Maybe a recent illness or injury is contributing to their lack in connection.
The best thing to do in this situation is to have an open and honest conversation with your partner(s). Discussing your desires, needs, and yes even those topics which you might feel vulnerable sharing. Avoiding these conversations will only lead to further sexual desire discrepancy and leave your partner(s) in the dark. If you or your partner(s) feel are unsure how to approach these topics or are having difficulty in finding ways to get the conversation started, seek support from a Sex Therapist in your area.
Seeking support takes courage and can be the difference in how we connect with a partner on both the physical and psychological levels.