Tips For Navigating A Relationship With Mismatched Libidos

When you love someone, it would make sense that you want to be on the same wavelength as them. Whether it comes to general desires or goals for the future, it feels great when you and your partner are taking on the world together. There's no other feeling quite like finding your other half and feeling connected. But after a bit of time dating, sometimes the sexual aspect of the relationship can fluctuate or change, which can sometimes feel like your connection is a little off-kilter or strained. That's normal, but it doesn't make it any less frustrating or tricky to navigate.

The first thing to remember when you have mismatched libidos with your partner is that it shouldn't end the relationship. In fact, according to research done by author Jacqui Gabb, Ph.D., reported on by Men's Health, couples who had less sex didn't have less satisfying relationships. Gabb deduced that this was due to "happy couples" wanting to make their relationship work. Sex wasn't a dealbreaker for them because they were in it for the long run.

So, if your relationship means anything to you and you want to make it work, having different sex drives shouldn't end it. Sex in a secure relationship isn't the only reason you're there and isn't the only way you connect with one another. But just like any hurdle or frustration, it is still something you need to learn how to work through.

Be considerate

Again, different sex drives isn't a reason to end a relationship, but it is something that needs to be addressed and communicated through in order to ease tension and figure out a "fix." Mismatched libidos isn't an easy thing for either partner. The partner who wants to have sex more than the other can potentially feel a sense of rejection or that they're not desirable. And the partner with the lower sex drive might feel guilty or like something's wrong with them when really it's such a common occurrence. Myisha Battle, a certified sex and dating coach, told Marriage it's "rare that two people will want sex with the same frequency at the same times throughout the course of their relationship."

She also noted that the partner with the higher sex drive might want to "[take] the pressure off the partner with a lower sex drive." This can mean masturbating on your own to take care of your hot-and-bothered feelings. It's also a good idea not to sneak up on your partner with sexual requests, especially if it's become an anxiety for them. To remedy this, Battle suggests planning intimate times with each other. She says that it lays out a schedule for both partners and "builds anticipation." Maybe you can make plans for a specific date and a specific fantasy you've been dying to explore. It's a great start to setting "sexpectations," letting both partners know what to expect and what they each want and are comfortable with.

Find intimacy in ways other than sex

If you are the partner that has a higher sex drive, it's possible that touch is your love language, and you're craving physical touch and intimacy, not necessarily sex. Yes, it's hard to confuse horniness for something else, but it's also possible that other physical touch can feed that desire and also help the two of you bond further. Plus, connecting in ways other than sex is a great way to build and keep your connection. Maybe you don't need more physical touch, but spending quality time with your partner can still make all the difference. Reconnect on other levels, and you'll feel that emotional intimacy that is good for the soul and a relationship.

You can go out on dates or do other fun things that you both like to do to spend time together. That also doesn't mean you have to leave the house either. Plan DIY or trivia nights, or plan a fun movie night where you build a fort or have a blow-up mattress in your living room. Sex therapist Shannon Chavez told HuffPost that non-sexual things like making out, touching, or eye-gazing are great ways to bond and reconnect. "Connection builds safety and closeness where erotic energy can develop," she said.

Masturbate with a little help from your partner

It's 2023, and by now, we know that sex doesn't have to be between a man and a woman or between a penis and a vagina. Both partners can have the same biological makeup and still have mind-blowing sex (sometimes even more so). But that rule of sex not having to involve penetration also applies to masturbation. Sex with your partner doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing thing if you're both on the same page, even if that doesn't mean your libidos are. Masturbation, as stated before, can be a great tool to help stave off horniness, but it can also be a great way to involve the partner who has the lower sex drive.

Sex therapist Gila Shapiro told HuffPost that masturbating while having your partner watch or help is a great, happy medium for couples. "Don't define masturbation as a lesser sexual activity," Shapiro said. You can incorporate dirty or pillow talk or have them stimulate you while you work on other areas. Again, just having your partner watch you could be incredibly hot as well.

Make sure you're taking time for yourself

In an article about not being on the same page as your partner sexually, it might seem odd to suggest singular activities. But it can definitely be helpful. Men's Health writes that "[finding] your independence" is a great way to grow together and be connected while still being your individual self. When you're dealing with an issue with your partner, it can sometimes give you both tunnel vision and make things seem more tense than they actually are. This, in turn, escalates an issue that could have been better solved by taking time away from each other. So making sure you focus on yourself — whether with self-care, pampering, or doing your favorite hobbies alone — you can come back together and feel rejuvenated. This is especially important for overall relationship health if you both live together.

Gabb, who conducted the study on sex drive fluctuation and how it impacts long-term relationships, said that "happy couples reported feeling more 'themselves' when they took time to focus on themselves every now and then." When you have hobbies or personal, physical spaces apart from one another, it's a great way to disengage. So when you do come back together, there's a fond reunion even if you just went down the hall to read for two hours.

Don't take it too seriously

A couple that can laugh and has a good time together is a couple that can get through almost anything. If you have a secure, healthy relationship but are struggling with mismatched libidos, make sure to fall back on the foundations of your relationship. You're compatible in so many ways, and one of them is having a good time in each other's company. Laughing is a great way to bond without doing much work at all. "If you laugh about something together, there's this sense of being in it together," Gabb told Men's Health. Dealing with any issue can be stressful and cause hiccups here and there. Remembering not to dwell on sex or take it too seriously and laugh together is a great cure.

Not only can laughing or joking around cut tension but it's been reported that laughing can increase emotional connection and intimacy, according to Men's Health. But again, it can also bring you both back to each other emotionally and be a good reminder that you love each other. Lack of sex for one partner or being nagged for sex for the other isn't fun, but it's also not a reason to break a secure bond with someone. You have to want to work through things, though, and between communication and focusing on other ways to help your situation than, just "more sex" is a great way to address mismatched libidos.