Can a Relationship Cope with a Difference in Libido?

In most relationships the sexual drive or libido is different in the partners. Of course, often when we start a relationship it feels like it will last forever; you can hardly keep your hands off each other; you are both very ready to have a sexual relationship.; you seem to share the same level of desire and have a great time together. Of course this honeymoon period rarely lasts for ever, and as the levels of hormones drop back to more normal levels we settle down into the day to day existence of being a couple. Each of us returns to our normal libido.

All too often however, this can affect the relationship; the partner with the greater sex drive can feel rejected and attribute it to their appearance (perhaps they have put on weight or aged), or that the couple has fallen out of love. All of these are a reflection of them trying to make sense of the different drives.

Perhaps rather than seeing it as a reflection on themselves they can blame their partners, believing that they need to try harder; if they loved them then they would be more responsive or willing. If the partner with the lower libido plays along, it can ultimately be not very satisfying.

Perhaps they see themselves or their partner as abnormal having to high or low a sex drive. In reality, however, there is no such thing as a normal sex drive and in reality the problems are caused by the difference between you and your partner, not the levels you are at compared to the rest of the population. There are some couples who are completely celibate but quite contented.

So, is there a secret to handling this difference what are some of the things that can be done?

Talking to your partner about your relationship and the sexual side is very important. If the couple don’t discuss how they feel then misunderstandings inevitably appear as you assign thoughts and feelings to your partner. It can be difficult to talk about, but in the long run being honest about how you feel is going to allow you to be clear about what can and cannot change.

In addition to talking openly and honestly, it’s important to recognise that there is an element of reality that you can’t change. If a person is an introvert, they can act like an extrovert but ultimately the real person is an introvert. Similarly with libido, it is another part of them that needs to be integrated into the relationship and will require negotiation and compromise.

While relationship counselling and visiting health care professionals can be useful, remember that it is your relationship so only you and your partner will know what it is like to be in that relationship and how it can work. Outsiders can help especially when it is difficult to talk to each other about it, but they cannot decide what is right for you or if it is normal.

Try to remember what attracted you to the person; while sex is an important part of the relationship, there are other things that you will value. Concentrate on the whole picture not just the problem.

Mismatched libido is a relatively common problem in relationship counselling and couples can get past it and have fantastic long-term loving relationships by being honest, talking about it, and finding creative solutions that celebrate both partners’ needs and the whole relationship they have.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Glasgow, G46
Written by Graeme Orr, MBACP(Accred) Counsellor
Glasgow, G46

I am an Accredited Member of BACP offering counselling in person (southside of Glasgow) and on-line (UK wide) for individuals. It can be a daunting prospect to choose a counsellor just when we are at our most vulnerable, I hope that what you read here resonates with you.  We all struggle with d...

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