How To Deal With Mismatched Libidos

by Lovehoney

on Apr 5, 2023

They want sex, and you don’t. Let’s be real, sometimes it happens – our libidos aren’t always matched, and that’s more than ok. But during those times where your sex drives don’t marry up, how do you both stay satisfied without feeling like you’re under pressure, or sacrificing on your own sexual happiness?

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Understanding Your Libido

A happy, fulfilling sex life can mean all kinds of things to different people, and while sex once a fortnight might totally satisfy one couple, for another it might be a sign that something's wrong.

Understanding your libido isn’t as black and white as some might think. The general misconception is that your sex drive is determined entirely by how often you want and engage with sex and intimacy, but your libido can be influenced by biological, psychological, and social factors.

As such, you might find your sex drive changes over time, and for all sorts of reasons. Even the most sexually active person is likely to notice that it fluctuates from day to day, whether that's due to hormonal changes, work stress or anything else life decides to throw at you. Finding a partner with a perfectly matched libido to yours is rare, especially when there are so many other things we need to consider when we’re choosing someone to share life with.

What Impacts Your Libido?

You may be able to pinpoint times in your life where your sex drive was lower than usual. It could have been down to pregnancy and giving birth, other hormonal changes or health implications. People with conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis or erectile dysfunction can find it challenging at times to maintain a consistently active sex life.

Individual factors such as low self-esteem and lack of confidence can affect your sex drive, while interpersonal circumstances such as losing interest or attraction to your partner, or communication struggles can impact our libido in other ways.

Lots of people find that daily interferences, like work-related stress, tiredness and fatigue, can make all the difference when it comes to deciding whether we want to engage in sex or not.


How Can Mismatched Libidos Affect Your Relationship?

Differing sex drives won’t necessarily cause problems for your relationship. Many couples are adaptable enough to find ways to accommodate and meet each other’s sexual needs and desires as they change and fluctuate over time.

Sometimes, it’s not so simple. A mismatch in sex drive can cause communication breakdown and resentment. When one of you wants sex more than the other, it can raise questions, doubt and confusion, creating unwelcome tension between you both.

Whatever the reason, if you haven’t had sex for a while, this can create a sense of insecurity over initiating intimacy and then also performing. If this is the case, it may be that your relationship needs a little work and nurturing, particularly where intimacy is concerned.

How To Deal with Mismatched Libidos

Ok, so now you’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes your sex drives don’t seem compatible. Hopefully, we’ve reassured you that this is completely normal for many couples, so there’s no need to hit the panic button and run for hills just yet.

Instead, taking the time to focus on the other parts of your relationship and then considerately nurturing the intimacy you do have, can make all the difference. Here are our top tips for how to deal with mismatched libidos:

Don't Compare Your Relationship to Others


Nobody’s relationship is perfect, yours included and when it comes down to sex and intimacy, there really is no ‘normal’ baseline.

So don’t compare your sex schedule with those of friends, or what you perceive to be ‘normal’ and instead, enjoy the intimacy you do share with your partner and let go pressure and expectations.

Make Intimacy Your Priority


We don’t mean sex. Find time to be close to each other, both physically and emotionally.

Schedule in date nights, treat one another to a massage, play a game together or share a bath.

Being intimate doesn’t have to start and end with intercourse, there’s so much more you can enjoy together as a couple.

Make Time For Curiosity

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Life (and relationships) can get pretty dull if you let them.

Make it a mission to stay curious together, whether that’s browsing for sex toys and trying on some different lingerie or pushing yourself to experiment with new sex positions and exploring your less conservative sexual fantasies together.

No matter how long you’ve been together, there’s always space in your relationship to become curious and let newness blossom.

Make Smaller Sexual Gestures


So, sometimes you really are too tired, too stressed, or too anything for sex, but your partner may be feeling the opposite.

Every once in a while, one of you will want it while the other doesn’t. Instead of taking sex and intimacy off the cards when this happens, compromise and meet in the middle.

Small ‘sexual’ gestures, such as kissing the nape of your partners neck, sending a subtle and saucy ‘sext’, running your hand across their thigh, or whispering ‘sweet nothings’ into your lover’s ear, can be just enough to satisfy your partner’s craving for intimacy without pushing beyond your own comfort boundaries.

Adapt and Accomodate

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If you or your partner is too tired to perform, you can lighten the pressure by using toys.

For vulva-owners, something small and non-intimidating like a mini bullet vibrator, or clitoral stimulator can slip seamlessly into foreplay and sex if things get heated.

For penis-owners who are feeling horny, but maybe also lacking in energy, a textured stroker, or vibrating masturbator paired with some water-based lube can give you a helping hand.

Keep The Lines of Communication Open


Mismatched libidos are most often a bigger problem if communication is too.

As for anything relevant to your relationship, being honest and willing to have discussions is the best way to navigate through any relationship challenge.

Find time to check in with one another and keep the lines of communication open.

Never Be Afraid to Say No


Say it loud for those in the back. You ALWAYS have the right to say no.

Sex doesn’t and shouldn’t define your relationship and at no point, should you feel like you have to ‘put out’ to keep up with expectations.

If you're not in the mood for sex, it's more than ok to decline the request to be intimate.

For more advice on consent in relationships, check out our advice guide.


Written by Lovehoney. For collaborative posts between Lovehoney team members and guest authors
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Originally published on Apr 5, 2023. Updated on Apr 5, 2023