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I’ve been dating my partner for about a year now (okay, 10 months), and overall, things have been great. We connect on so many levels emotionally, and I really care about them. But there’s one issue that’s been bothering me and I’m not sure what to do about it. Our sex drives seem to be completely mismatched. I like to have sex a few times a week, where they’re rarely in the mood. It’s starting to make me feel insecure and, frankly, unfulfilled in our relationship.
I’ve tried talking to my partner about it, but it’s a sensitive (and kind of awkward) topic, and I don’t want to pressure them or make them feel bad. I want to find a solution that works for both of us, but I’m just not sure where to start. I’m struggling to balance what I want with what they need, and it’s becoming a source of tension in our otherwise loving relationship.
We’ve even tried scheduling “intimate time” on our calendars, but TBH, it feels forced and unromantic, and half the time one of us comes up with an excuse to just reschedule. Do you have any advice on how to address this issue given these circumstances? I really love my partner and want us to be happy together, but I’d be lying if I said this hasn’t become quite frustrating.
Help Me Please,
Desperate For An O
Dear Desperate For an O,
You’re in what I like to call the “tug of war of love,” except right now, you’re doing most of the tugging. So, let me start by giving you permission to feel all the feels. The confusion, the sadness, the insecurities, the worries, all of it. Lie down in a ball with your cat (a stuffed animal will work, too) and just fucking feel. Reassure yourself that there is nothing wrong with wanting sex. There is nothing wrong with wanting sex with your partner, and certainly nothing wrong with wanting more sex than your partner, too.
Before I give you the big sister advice I wish I had (yes, I’ve experienced something similar, and so have 80% of couples at least once), I want you to know that this solution takes two people who love and respect each other (sounds like you’ve checked that box) to find balance in the game of tug of war so one of you (or both) doesn’t fall flat on your ass. But enough with the solace. I’m going to share something with you that changed my entire outlook on sex.
Being the higher-desire partner can come with its insecurities – the feeling that something is wrong with you for wanting more sex than your partner, feeling like your partner isn’t as attracted to you as you are to them, feeling uncomfortable being the only one initiating, experiencing more rejections than one can handle, I could go on and on, and on, and on at least three more times. You’re trying to put together a really hard puzzle without the picture on the box. The first clue I can offer you is that it’s most likely your desire types are just… different!
Great, so WTF do you do about it???
I’m going to assume you and your partner’s desire types from what you’re telling me (highly suggest giving the book Come As You Are a read to confirm for yourself and dive deeper into this topic). Spontaneous desire, or the sudden inclination to have sex, has been fed to us in almost every movie known to man (think that super awkward first scene of Bridesmaids). It doesn’t take much for spontaneous desire people to want sex — they can get turned on relatively fast in most situations. This is what I believe your desire type seems like (twinsies). Responsive desire, on the other hand, happens in reaction to physical arousal through the senses. People with this type of desire usually need an experience that leads to wanting sex. For example, touching or kissing slowly will stimulate their brain and turn on their sex accelerators. It’s more rare that the thought of sex will bring them to want it. This is what I believe your partner’s desire type might be. As the great Emily Nagoski (coolest sex educator ever) once said, “Spontaneous desire appears in anticipation of pleasure, responsive desire emerges in response to pleasure.”
One possible reason why your partner isn’t initiating or discussing sex is they’re simply just not thinking about it, at least in the way you are (insert mind-blown emoji). They still find you just as hot and sexy as they did 10 months ago, but it may be that their body needs more compelling reasons to want pleasure than just the thought of your sexiness (rude, lol). We spontaneous folks may not be able to comprehend that, but on the bright side, it can take the weight off of those mind-consuming insecurities a little bit.
The goal is not to match your libidos but, instead, learn what gets your partner the most turned on, and the most interested or excited about sex. I understand the conversation can be sensitive (and even awkward), but communicating around this topic is how you will find the satisfaction you both deserve. Having deep, vulnerable, and honest discussions (maybe over takeout and wine on the couch) about what you’ve been feeling with your partner can help you realize what having sex looks like for you as a couple or how you wish it will look in the future. I’m a lover of cheesy, silly games, because they really help couples open up around hard topics like this. A game like Wonderlust will help make these conversations a little easier.
It can also help to remove every trace of expectation and the demand that sex will result from any physical contact between you. For example, if you kiss your partner, they may take it as you making a move and initiating a sexual experience, which can create a pressured feeling and turn them off. Scheduling sex may not work for your partner because planned sex can feel like a chore or obligation rather than something enjoyable that pleases your partner’s senses. See why I’m begging you to push through the sensitivity of those conversations? Y’all can’t read each other’s fucking minds!! The rejection of your partner not wanting to have sex with you will damage the ego. We’re trying to avoid that from now on through some good old honesty and vulnerability because (and I will preach this from the rooftops over and over if I have to) them not wanting sex as frequently most likely has nothing to do with YOU.
Instead, can you schedule a massage, a bath, a shared shower together, a movie night? Anything that could lead to intimacy but doesn’t have to lead to sex. As the higher-desire partner, it’s important for you to remove that expectation around sex, too, and try your best not to feel disappointed if sex doesn’t happen. (So much easier said than done. I know!)
Don’t ever underestimate the art of seduction. During those deep conversations, learn what brings your partner the most pleasure, what erogenous zones they enjoy being stimulated, feelings that turn them, smells that make them feel the most pleasurable, etc. Consider ways you can incorporate those things during the scheduled massage or activity. Massage candles have done wonders for me. 10/10 recommend.
On the flip side, think about what you need from your partner when you’re not having sex to lessen your insecure thoughts and feel more secure. This can look like physical reassurance, weekly check-ins, intimacy outside of sex, simply them telling you, “Hey, I’m down to make out tonight, but I don’t want more than that,” etc. If they are experiencing a period where sex is entirely off the table, can they buy you a sex toy to use by yourself or some lingerie to wear around the house to keep that sexiness without the sex alive?
Desire types are not constant. They can change over time due to every factor in your life: stress, worries, career changes, environment, you name it. Feeling aligned and on the same page with your partner and understanding what is currently taking up their brainpower is crucial for fulfilling your needs. With that being said, you will never find someone who fulfills ALL of your needs, especially sexually. There will always be a few puzzle pieces missing. If you and your partner work on it together slowly, trying to figure out what the big picture looks like as a couple, there is immense hope in securing that balance. Remaining empathetic toward one another and acknowledging one’s desire type is not better than the other will deepen your connection and, who knows, lead to some steamy (unplanned?) sex.
I’ll stop with the metaphors (for the rest of 2023), but from the sound of it, you and your partner have a lot of mutual love and respect, and that’s truly the most important part of partaking in a sex life you both enjoy. You’re also so fresh into this thing! It’s only been 10 months, so it makes sense you’re still trying to find that rhythm with one another’s bodies. As frustrating as it is, it’s also 100% possible to resolve the uncomfortable turmoil this has on your relationship. So, instead of sex, put a conversation on the calendar and bring the tissues because vulnerability and intimacy may gift you that O you’ve been craving.
A Betch Who Knows Best
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