The level of sexual desire, or how much sex one you want, is influenced by any numbers of factors. These could include stress, how one feels towards one’s partner at a given moment, physical wellbeing, age, as well as drugs and medicines. But just like everything else in life, there is tremendous variety between people in how much or how little they desire sex. For some people very infrequent sex or no sex at all feels perfectly sufficient, while I have had other people in my practice who report that at a minimum they would like to have sex once a day, but preferably more.
In the bad old days people could be diagnosed as either hypo-sexual (too little sexual desire) or hyper-sexual (too much sexual desire). But in fact in all of my years is graduate training, and years as a sex therapist, nobody has ever been able to tell me the “right” amount of sex to want. In fact, there is an old joke in the sex therapy community in which hypo-sexuality means that you have sex less frequently than your therapist does, and hyper-sexuality means that you are getting it more than your therapist gets it.
So the chances of both you and another person liking sex with the same frequency is fairly slim. It is no more likely than two people having the exact same appetite for food, but when it comes to sex, different levels of sexual appetites in a relationship if not handled well can lead to hard feelings, guilt, anger and resentment. But the problem is far from insurmountable, and can be easily handled and the situation resolved so that it never becomes an issue in the relationship again.
The first thing that is important to determine is if the situation is as simple a difference in level of sexual desire. So, just as one example, let’s say one of you experiences pain when having sex making it unenjoyable, and as a result tries to avoid having sex. You might like the idea having sex, but because it has become associated with discomfort, you are reluctant to even try. This is not truly low sexual desire. In fact you do want to be having sex, but the pain interferes with actually doing it. In this case you might want to get a physical examination either by a gynecologist for women, or a urologist for men. Or a proctologist if the pain is when attempting penetrative anal intercourse. Assuming that the physical examinations turn up nothing wrong, a competent certified sex therapist can guide you through a series of exercises that can attenuate, or get rid of the pain altogether.
Another important factor is paying attention to the internal nature of how you become sexually desirous. No exclusively, but for many woman, desire FOLLOWS arousal. A simpler way to say that is once the woman can get herself aroused, of is aroused by a partner, she first then starts to want sex. Had she been asked a few minutes before becoming aroused if she would like to have sex, her response may have been: “No, not particularly.”
It is also important to take into account that some people do in fact want to have sex, but either traumatic or other life experiences have made it feel uncomfortable to them and they feel too anxious to tolerate having sex. This too is not truly low sexual desire, but rather there are concerns that get in the way of the person feeling their full sexual desire. Fortunately, these concerns are of the type that sex therapists work with on a daily basis, and can usually be resolved in sex therapy, opening the door to sexual desire.
Finally, there is one more thing that may seem simple but I have found in my practice that many people do not pay enough attention to. Spend a little bit of time paying attention to how you and your partner approach each other. Is it in a manner that tends to turn you on? Some people go for a slow romantic build up, and like a particular type of atmosphere, i.e. soft lights and sensual music. For others, more of a turn on might be an aggressive approach, and perhaps being in a place that feels a little “sleazy” like the cheap motel room, or out in the garage. These are all questions of personal tastes and not directly questions of level of sexual desire. So it is important that you communicate to your partner(s) what turns you on, and that you both make efforts to include that in the equation.
If none of the above-mentioned things is interfering with your sex play, and one of you wants it much more than the other, that you have what can truly be called discrepant sexual desire. Like in the old Woody Allen movie, I have had people in my office tell me that the other one “wants it all the time.” When asked the answer might be 2 – 3 times per week. When I interview the partner, and I ask the same question, the response comes back: “Practically never. We’re lucky if we have sex 2 or three times a week.” This is really a discrepancy in sexual desire. Both partners enjoy sex, enjoy how they go about having sex, but one simply wants to be doing it more frequently than the other. While there is no way to make their level of sexual desire exactly the same, there are things that you can do to accommodate different levels of sexual desire.
Perhaps the most important place to start for the person with lower sexual desire would be what I have heard referred to as sexual altruism. This is not giving in to someone’s sexual advances when you do not want to have sex, which is close to feeling coerced, and not good for the individual, nor the relationship. Instead, it is providing something for your lover because it gives them pleasure and that you then have the opportunity to derive pleasure from the fact that you are giving your lover pleasure. Folded into that, many people can also derive pleasure in that situation for know how much they are desired by their partner.
Beyond that, which is basically what the person with the lower desire can do, there are things that you may do as a couple, providing that you are both open minded. There will be times that the person with less sexual desire really doesn’t want to have sex at all. Talk about this in advance. Could your partner than masturbate? If so – it’s better to have them do it in your presence, rather than having to sneak off to another room, which tends in the direction of pulling the two of you further apart sexually. See if the two of you might lie side by side as the one masturbates, and perhaps if the other is in the mood you can assist.
The general idea is that you both get the chance to feel sexually fulfilled, and neither of you feels resentful of the other, and it is enjoyable for both of you. If I can help you, don’t hesitate to reach out 212-242-2219, I’m happy to help.