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Desire discrepancy

Date

Matty Silver

How to wake up a sex life that has gone to sleep ... Mismatched libidos.

How to wake up a sex life that has gone to sleep ... Mismatched libidos. Photo: Sylvia Tuz

My blog, 'Mismatched Libidos', published at the end of last year, received such an enormous response, I have decided to write a follow-up. The subject set off some interesting discussions.

Some of the comments included:

I have given up pursuing sex as I am sick of rejection by the woman I love and lust after. 

"As someone that is in a sexless relationship I can tell you the communication part is very hard. People take discussions on this subject very personal [sic] and both people rarely consider the impact of the situation on the other".

"I was going to send this article to my wife but know it would inspire resentment, which revolves around the 'pressure' I place upon her. We are a classic example of the limerence issue, unable to discuss it because we end up fighting. I have given up pursuing sex as I am sick of rejection by the woman I love and lust after".

"I would like a follow up article that will give couples some methods to address mismatched libidos. I need more guidance provided then just to be told 'consult a sex therapist'. I am not asking for an article to replace a sex therapist but would like to receive more information and education of ways that might be explored".

There were also comments from some very disillusioned men, who feel trapped and cheated. They feel they can't leave the relationship as they have children and do not want to lose them, so they hang in there unhappily.

"Marriage is a social construct that only caters for the needs and wants of women. Sex is used as a tool to achieve the required result. Once married a man has few choices. Go without sex, cheat or leave. Regardless the man is either left unhappy, broke or both".

"Women really seem to be the only winners in a marriage, especially when they deny sex to their husbands."

"I look forward to when my kids are a bit older so I can leave and live my life in dignity".

But, it was not just the men who were hurting. Some other comments by women included:

"I have been married four years and we are both in our early thirties so you would think that we would have a great sex life but unfortunately that is not the case. My husband has an almost total lack of sex drive, I have spoken to him which seems to cause even more stress on his already stressful job. I have tried to be understanding and supportive, suggested he see a doctor about his health or a sex therapist but he is not interested. We both would like kids but it takes two to tango".

"Libido is just an excuse. Many things get in the way of sex but people in relationship need to make an effort. Sometimes I don't particular[ly] feel like it but I know it is important in a loving relationship so I make an effort and when I start I usually really enjoy it".

"I spent nearly ten years of my life with little to no libido, but days after quitting hormonal birth control, I was like a horny teenager again".

One of the most common sexual problems in relationships, there have been several books and articles written about 'desire discrepancy'. Dr Rosie King's Good Loving Great Sex is a book that is still very relevant and a must-read for couples who wish to have and maintain a good sexual relationship.

Dr King believes that many couples experience disputes and ongoing unhappiness because of unresolved issues in their sex lives. The majority of these couples are experiencing mismatched libidos and need practical information and common-sense strategies. When a couple acquires the skills and are willing to work together, a solution can be found.

To stop the pursuer-distancer cycle, it is important that you develop empathy for your partner's situation. Whether you are the pursuer or the distancer, it is important to stop blaming each other; both of you are missing out on a good sex life. Goodwill between partners is critical. When you forgive each other for past hurts and misunderstandings, you can start to improve your situation, but you have to change your attitudes and behaviours and work together to re-establish intimacy.

The pursuer should make the effort to back off and try to improve the relationship by being understanding and caring. This, in turn, helps to re-establish better emotional connections and rebuild trust and closeness.

The distancer should try to be more physically loving and affectionate. Show your partner that you are willing to make changes, which may encourage him or her to do the same. It is important to learn how to negotiate sex in a way that shows your partner that you care about his or her sexual needs.

It is not possible to give a one-size-fits-all answer to the comments. Every couple has different issues, but if there is still love, respect and especially goodwill in a relationship, it is worthwhile giving it another chance. Too often, clients come to see me when it is already too late to heal the hurt and disappointments that have accumulated over so many years. The best likelihood of repairing a relationship is early intervention.

In Bettina Arndt's The Bedroom Diaries, she quoted American sex therapist Michele Weiner Davis, who suggested women "just do it!" Desire is a decision, she said, you can't wait for it to come, you have to make it happen.

Weiner Davis said there is no point worrying about the reasons you are not interested in sex. She believes that knowing won't boost your desire, but doing something about it will. Indeed, she says, you may end up enjoying it in the end.

Many women feel anger at Arndt  - and Weiner Davis - for seemingly taking sides with men. However, when a couple decides to marry or commit to a life together, there is a general understanding that they will work, entertain, cook, clean the house, look after the kids and have sex. All these activities need planning and take time. Maybe it is time to change our thinking about what is more important, as sex often seems to be last of the priorities.

You won't leave your partner without food or stop cleaning the house, why is it so difficult to schedule in some time for sex?

215 comments

  • I called it quits on my long term (7.5 yr) relationship last year for this very reason. We read the books, including Dr Rosies'. Intellectually it made sense, but I just couldn't get any desire happening. I loved the guy I was with, he was my best friend, I wanted him to be happy so I let him go. At first he wasn't keen but now he seems very happy. It was a sacrifice but I'm just so happy to see him smiling again. Sometimes love is like that. Not for everyone of course. But to be quite honest I could care less if I ever have sex again, I wouldn't want to limit someone elses life experiences because of my lack of desire.

    Commenter
    Katherine D
    Date and time
    January 29, 2013, 12:51PM
    • Best friend. Guy you love. And yet you choose to abandon all that because the occasional act of sex, on balance, outweighs in negatives the benefits of friendship, caring and love. I am not judging you, just ensuring it is clear.

      If so, I think many men would point to this example as evidence of what they are up against.

      Commenter
      dj
      Location
      there
      Date and time
      January 29, 2013, 1:27PM
    • Yes he was my best friend and he was miserable. He had been in ONE relationship prior to ours, we are in our 40's. He was miserable then too but for different reasons. Life is short, I wanted him to find happiness. He is a great man and I wish him the very best.

      Commenter
      Katherine D
      Date and time
      January 29, 2013, 1:52PM
    • That's why I wouldn't bother reading books written by women about this. Women don't know what they want. Any guy who comes across as understanding, open communication, discusses emotions, wants to resolve differences, etc, is a turn off for women. Majority of women don't understand this, but they are biologically sexually attracted to guys that don't give a shit and just want to fuck them. The moment the guy becomes caring and sharing, that's it...sexual attraction for him starts to diminish.
      Guys, don't fall for all that poliitically correct, new age bullsh1t. It's perpetuated by women and guys who have lost their masculinity.

      Commenter
      MrX
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      January 29, 2013, 2:00PM
    • Mmm I don't think that's really a fair call re only women discussing these sorts of issues. We also read a book by Dr John Grey which again, intellectually was helpful. We could understand what the problems were but not able to resolve them. We started making time for sex but even then he was miserable because he felt it was forced and that I didn't really desire him sexually and I guess that was true. I had no desire whatsoever and it was nothing personal towards him. Anyway I am happy that he is happy now, it suits him.

      I have to say I think our culture today pushes the view through advertising etc that women are always up for it and many of us arent. Sadly I think many woman are comparing themselves to photoshopped beauties and finding that they don't measure up. I'm sure most guys aren't that picky but I do believe that many women feel pressured by recently adopted social 'norms' that equate a woman's value with her sexual desirability and perceived beauty. And of course many women are buying into this, the looks and styles etc...and then wondering why guys are only interested in them for sex. Hmm I think it is a very complex issue and there is no simple answer.

      Commenter
      Katherine D
      Date and time
      January 29, 2013, 2:51PM
    • @MrX ........... i don't know what you base your comment on, but if you are suggesting 'all' women are as you describe, then it seems you have very poor sources and possibly extremely limited experience

      i am a woman with quite a high libido and who really enjoys a man being a man (so to speak) when it comes to sex.......... love strongly masculine men

      but i hate macho, a#@$holes who don't give a f@#k other than just a f@#k ........ those guys turn me RIGHT off

      i'm a fairly attractive person too, so have never had any issues with lack of interest and attention .......... maybe i'm lucky coz i've been able to be selective enough not to go with the kind of boorish tools you describe......

      men who ca be masculine without compromising respect, subtlety, sensitivity and good communication are actually more fully masculine to my mind....... and far more sexy!!

      Commenter
      laughingisawesome
      Date and time
      January 29, 2013, 3:22PM
    • @laughingisawesome

      Absolutely! And they're out there!

      Commenter
      AT
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      January 29, 2013, 5:50PM
    • Hi Katherine D

      My wife didn't have to measure up to anything in magazines, movies or any other stereotype. I lusted and loved her for who she was and who we were together. Not that it seems to matter, nothing has changed.

      Katherine, I admire your honest and, IMHO, incredibly loving act in letting him go. At times in the past, when we used to try to talk about this, my wife said that I should have an affair - and on more than one occasion. I didn't, and don't, want to. I don't want to be that type of person. That is not the type of love that I want to give/receive. However, neither is this type of marriage. What will break first...?

      For all those who like to rush to judgement in the comments they make about what others write: before you judge, walk a mile in that person's shoes. No matter how much they look like your's, they're not the same.

      Katherine D, I hope you find the love you are looking for.

      Commenter
      15 years and counting
      Date and time
      January 29, 2013, 6:22PM
    • @Katherine, I think that was a very loving and compassionate stance to take. I'm sure it was not easy for either of you.

      Thank you for your comment. Best wishes for the two of you.

      Commenter
      Bob
      Date and time
      January 30, 2013, 9:37AM
  • After trying to schedule in some time for sex with my partner for the last 4 years I have given up.
    I have started taking a herbal supplement called Vitex. My urges are under control and I am happy:)

    Commenter
    given up
    Date and time
    January 29, 2013, 12:55PM

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