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  • Gabrielle Nata

Desire Discrepancy - How It Can Increase Intimacy and Closeness In Your Relationship

Updated: Apr 24, 2022

In an ideal world, both partners in a relationship would desire to have sex at the same time, every time, feeling happy, close, and connected.

Unfortunately for the vast majority of couples, that is not the case.

Below are some tips that may help you navigate the desire discrepancy in your relationship as well as an activity you can do with your partner.

Mismatched Libidos - The Silent Relationship Killer

When one partner has a significantly higher libido than their other half, it can begin to feel like as though you're living worlds apart, causing anxiety, frustration, and feelings of rejection. Many partners lose hope and just accept the discrepancy as their reality or end the relationship.

When left unaddressed, the lack of physical intimacy can slowly whittle away the emotional intimacy between you and your partner.

If you are the partner with the lower libido, you may be beginning to feel hesitant to reciprocate a kiss or cuddle with your partner, avoiding non-sexual touch out of fear that it will lead to sex because the last thing you want to do is hurt or reject your partner.

If you are the partner with the higher libido you may be feeling rejected and lonely. You don't want to make your partner uncomfortable, you just want to feel wanted. You may be beginning to wonder if they still want you or find you attractive.

Women Have High Sex Drives Too!

Due to society's gender expectations, desire discrepancy can be even more difficult when the higher libido partner is the woman in a heterosexual relationship. There is a pervasive belief in the modern world that women do not experience a strong of a desire for sex equivalent to their male counterparts.

Additionally, there is the belief that men always want sex and if he doesn't then there must be something wrong with him or he must not be interested in his partner. This sort of "role switching" in heterosexual couples can leave him feeling emasculated and leave her feeling unattractive and undesired.

It Might Be Uncomfortable, But You Have To Talk About It!

Even though you may feel alone in this, it is emotionally exhausting for both of you. So, before going into the discussion, though, it is important for both you and your partner to remember that neither of you are wrong or broken.

The goal is to understand your partner's experience and find a solution, together.

Empathizing with your partner can help you better understand their experience and help make your partner feel safe. By increasing the care and compassion you show your partner and yourself you decrease any guilty or anxiety toward wanting or not wanting sex.

Experiencing empathy and working together can alleviate the fear of being rejected or having to reject your partner which, in turn, can create an intimate environment.

Don't Give Up! You Have Options!

  1. Check with your doctor. If the partner with the lower libido has noticed there's been a change in their libido, it may be helpful to talk to the doctor to rule out any physical conditions, medications, or other relationship, life, or work stressors effecting their mental health causing It.

  2. Schedule sex. Many couples benefit from scheduling sex. Discuss with your partner and find a time that you are both available with minimal distractions. When you know there is a scheduled time, it allows both of you time to prepare and help each other take care of possible stress or distractions (finding a sitter for the kids, folding the laundry, cleaning the kitchen, etc).

  3. Rediscover physical touch. Engage in more non-sexual physical touch without it leading to sex. This can create closeness by decreasing the tension both of you feel and allow the partner with the lower libido partner to feel safe engaging in physical intimacy without any expectation.

  4. Be intimate without penetration. Sex is much more than penetration. The partner who does not want to engage in penetrative sex, can still reciprocate their partner's desire and be intimate by either assisting them in masturbating or just being present with them while they masturbate using sensual touch and intimate kidding. This shows them that you want to feel close to them and that you do desire them even though you may not desire penetration at the moment.

Start the Conversation By Better Understanding Each Other's Desire


  • 2 Pieces of paper

  • 2 Pencils

On your own separate pieces of paper, draw a line down the middle to divide it into two sections.

On the left-hand side, write whatever words or phrases that come to mind for the following prompts:

- The immediate thought comes to mind when you hear the word "love"

- When I think of love, I think of...

- When I love I feel...

- When I am loved, I feel...

- In love, I look for . . .

On the right-hand side, write whatever words or phrases that come to mind for the following prompts:

- On the right-hand side, answer the next set of prompts

- When I think of sex I think . . .

- When I desire, I feel . . .

- When I am desired, I feel . . .

- In sex, I look for . . .

The exercise allows you to see how love and desire are connected or not connected for each partner and they different motivations and needs each partner has, in regard to love and desire.

Talking with your partner about a desire discrepancy in your relationship can feel scary, vulnerable, and awkward for both partners, but it has potential to bring you closer together than if there was no discrepancy. Working through this together, can be a way to discover more about yourself and your partner.

Many couples struggle with mismatched libidos. Sex and desire are incredibly vulnerable topics, do not be afraid to reach out to a licensed counselor to help guide those conversations and more solutions when you feel stuck.

If you tried the exercise or have any questions, leave a comment below!


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