Mismatched Libidos

This post is a request from a regular reader and commenter, who asked for an open forum to talk about the problems, and possible solutions, of what happens when sexual partners have severely mismatched libidos. So, I am asking all my readers to give advice or share stories of their experiences.

Have you had a  partner in a committed relationship (married/engaged) who wanted a very different amount of sex than yourself?

Did this impact the relationship as a whole, or only the sexual aspects of it?

Did the partner with the lower sex drive use the promise of increased sexual favors to manipulate you into buying items outside of your budget or doing things you had no desire to do?

Conversely, did the partner with the higher libido consistently push for sex, even when you were clearly sick or actively busy with work/family chores?

What steps did you use to attempt to fix this issue? Did the fixes take, or did the two of you backslide into old routines?

If no attempts at creating sexual harmony were taken, what happened to.the relationship? Did you separate, divorce, stay together, or agree to an “open relationship”?

If you knew then what you know know about this partner, would you have still gotten into a committed relationship with them?

Similar question: Have you ever had any of this happen in a more casual relationship, like FwB or dating?

You are free to add any other information or clarification, but please remember to adhere to my comments policy and have respect for those who take the time to share their experiences.

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19 thoughts on “Mismatched Libidos

  1. Having never had sex, and having absolutely no expectation of having sex,
    I am probably not the person to answer this question, except from what a
    very influential woman in my life told me. She said: “No woman enjoys sex to
    the same extent that a man enjoys it. Except perhaps, when the woman is young.
    This would seem to make sense from an outsider’s perspective. Sex is
    something that a woman submits to, and she is rarely in the same amorous
    mood that the male is in. The man compels the woman to engage in sex.
    It is true that female sexuality is like a bell curve, from women women who
    have no urges, to sociopath manlike “I-kissed-a-girl,” like women. It’s also been
    said that a female’s sexuality is more “elastic” then the male and she is more
    willing to engage with other women then a man is with other men.
    I would suspect that two people with widely contrasting labietos would not
    remain with the other unless there was some economic advantage to the
    arraingement. The undersexed one would not object if their partner had
    their “needs” met with a third party. No man however, knowingly wants to
    be “cockhold.”

  2. @Lon

    I don’t know who this woman is, but I’d personally disagree with her based on my own desires. If we are only talking about my FwB relationship, I have never once in 7+ years “submitted” to sex. In fact, I am the one who initiates our encounters the majority of the time…I can probably count on both hands the number of times my lover has been sexually assertive. I don’t blame him for this as most of his previous partners were as you describe, and he still kind of views women as “gatekeepers” of sex. Even when he is assertive, he doesn’t “compel” me to engage in sex, I respond quite quickly and readily (though this could be due to me feeling turned on almost all the time).

    I think it’s important to note that both sexes can have extremely low to nonexistent/asexual libidos, but I’ll agree that more women seem to be bisexual than men. This is probably a combination of societal and biological causes.

    You would think that the low sex drive partner would understand the other’s needs and be fine with them fulfilling said needs with another person, but if you read the comments in my Monogamy and Fidelity post, this is apparently not the case. Were I a married person with a very low libido, I would not mind if my husband slaked his thirst elsewhere so long as
    1. He was open and honest about it.
    2. He had a vasectomy.
    3. He made sure the other woman was STD free and only interested in sex.
    4. He came back home to me every night.

    If I were in such a situation and these were all agreed upon, I don’t see much of an issue. However, most people don’t seem to feel this way for whatever reasons. Lastly, I’ll add that no man wants to be cuckolded, but neither do women.

  3. Hopefully this isn’t some blogging faux-pas, but I’ll talk about the few times my FwB and I had mismatched sex drives.

    We usually both want sex all the time, but there have been rare occasions when he was feeling upset or sick and truly didn’t want to have sex at all. As he once put it “I *could* fuck right now…but I wouldn’t enjoy it”. In other words, the sex drive is still there but the rest of the body or mind isn’t cooperating. In the 7 or so years we’ve been having sex, I can recall 6 times he has turned down my advances.

    However, in these cases there was nothing to “fix”, other than for him to get over whatever virus was making him sick or to deal with the situation that was frustrating/upsetting him. On my end, I was slightly disappointed in the temporary lack of sexual compatibility, but no more so than I’d be disappointed that a picnic got rained out…

    I simply had an unplanned masturbation session. There was no need to get upset myself, or to be angry that sex wasn’t forthcoming. Life happens, and sometimes this means you don’t get what you’d like to have. You can either rage against it and make a mountain out of a molehill, or you can accept that things don’t always go according to plan. (I’m sure that if I was being consistently denied sex, I’d feel differently but this obviously wasn’t the case.)

    If anyone is wondering, no. I have never said no to an offer of sex from him. But then, I’m younger, have a better immune system, and believe the best cure for headaches or minor daily stressors is sex. This doesn’t mean I am better than my lover, just different.

  4. Menopause is that special time in a man’s life when he should have a good hobby. };-)>

    And maybe sleep in the garage, as otherwise the blankets get thrown on him during hot flashes, causing him to sweat. Then they get ripped off him after the hot flash, causing him to experience hypothermia as the sweat cools.


  5. @ BroadBlogs
    I note that your article doesn’t mention maternity as a cause of declining (in both senses of the word!) libido. As a father of four, I can attest that with each pregnancy, the desire for sex reduces until it is beyond the ability of the father to reach. He could spend all of his waking hours practising dating behavior and still get nowhere.
    But pregnancy isn’t the only cause of reduced libido. I’ve read a fair amount on lesbian bed death, a condition where pregnancy isn’t part of the equation. It seems like the passage of time is sufficient for a woman to lose interest in sex no matter how good it is.
    These two points lead me to think that maybe Lon Spector’s Bell Curve idea just might have some validity.

  6. @navigator

    Ha, tell me about it. My mom constantly talks about how much it drives her crazy to be hot then cold in a matter of minutes.

    I do sometimes wonder if the fact I have no symptoms (besides 3 days of bleeding) during “that time”, likewise means I’ll have fewer/no symptoms when I hit menopause? Guess I’ll just have to wait and find out!

  7. @Exfernal

    Huh, so there has been research done on this…I wonder why other women don’t have consistent levels of desire? Even if they had a low libido and no desire to initiate, surely their body responds normally to the caresses of their husband?

  8. It used to be said: “Women trade sex for love, and men trade love for sex.”
    Also, that to engage in sex, men need a place, and women need a reason.”
    Feminism seems to have turned this logic on it’s head, and many men can’t
    handle it. It’s easier for women to branch out into masculine roles then men
    to assume femmine roles.
    Some men get weary of playing with their own “gun,” so they take up the
    “Bushmaster” rifle. Instead of spraying their seamen in their fist, they spray
    bullets from a rifle.

  9. @Tarnished
    From what a couple of friends tell me, their menopause symptoms didn’t necessarily reflect their typical periods in intensity of production. Let’s hope your symptoms are as mild as your periods appear to be.

  10. @Tarnished
    There is always a response. It just isn’t what he expects all the time.

  11. @Blurkel

    Yeah, it seems like it can go a multitude of ways. The thing is, I have a hunch mine will be similar to what I currently experience because of the higher-than-typical amount of soy in my diet. When digested, it creates a chemical like estrogen…just enough that my mother’s doctor told her to eat some steamed soybeans a few times a week.

    She hasn’t (even though I think they are quite delicious), but that’s on her…

  12. @Blurkel (again)

    Lol. Oh? And what responses are typical of the ones you’re speaking of?

    I mean, if you’re trying to get it on with the grandkids right in the next room over, I’d probably decline. But if it’s a case of an empty house and nothing to do…

  13. “She said: “No woman enjoys sex to the same extent that a man enjoys it. Except perhaps, when the woman is young.”
    I’m very surprised an older woman would claim a woman’s libido is higher in youth. In my experience, and the experience of pretty much every healthy person I know it’s the opposite. Libido increases with age…at least, until menopause strikes.

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