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How to handle mismatched libidos

Are you in a relationship where one of you wants sex more than the other? Is it difficult to talk about it? You may feel helpless and not sure what to do to resolve it. You're not alone. One in 3 couples is estimated to have desire differences. In my sex therapy practice, couples have shared with me things they have tried, such as scheduling sex and open communication about sexual needs. Still, one person ends up feeling undesired, and the other person feels inadequate and frustrated. This post will give you tips on how to create sexual desire harmony and experience the sensual relationship you BOTH deserve.

Before I share strategies and tips, there's one limiting belief we need to get out of the way. Your sexual desire is not an indicator of how much you love your partner. If you have a lower libido, it doesn't mean you are less attracted to your lover. Now that we got that out of the way, we can continue with the post. Think of this process as a journey, but know that in the end, you will be able to have your needs met, and you can be in a relationship that's no longer threatened by a lack of sexual intimacy.


The first step is assessing your relationship and identifying any stressors, health issues, or other problems that impact the level of intimacy. You can check in with each other by doing this once a month. Set aside time to complete the check-in as it may take 1-2 hours. Create an environment that encourages open conversation and connection. You can light candles and play relaxing music in the background. Take turns asking each other the following five questions:

  • Are there things that you worry about that you haven't talked to me about yet?

  • What can I start doing that would make you feel loved and appreciated?

  • Are you satisfied with the amount of time we spend together and the time you have for yourself?

  • Are there any medical and mental health issues that impact your ability to enjoy sex and intimacy?

  • How will you create a stronger connection to your sensuality?

Now that you've discussed the "check-in" questions, you can create a plan to support your intimacy and sex life. Use these questions as a guide to address issues in the relationship, enhance your communication, and create a stronger bond.


Don't put limits on sex. Sex covers both outercourse and intercourse. As a couple, you can talk about the different ways you can connect sexually, like mutual masturbation, oral pleasure, playing with sex toys, stimulation of erogenous zones, tantric sex, and BDSM/roleplaying. As you expand your definition of sex, you open up the possibilities for experiencing pleasure that does not center around your usual scripts.


Can I let you in on a little secret? One of my favorite ways to do this is taking sexy selfies for my private collection. You don't have to be nude. It's a chance to focus on your own definition of sensuality and connect with yourself. Create an environment that supports your sensuality, play music, light a candle, and take out your camera and have fun capturing your sensual side. Each person needs to spend time validating and connecting to their sensual self. As you understand that part of you, you can better communicate sexual needs and feel confident as a sexual being.


Connect to the present moment through sexual intimacy. We all need to practice being in the moment and getting out of our heads. Our brains are accustomed to multi-tasking. Don't consume your thoughts with anything other than what you are experiencing in the moment.

Here are a few tips:

BREATH - If your thoughts start to wonder, take two deep breaths, and pay attention to how the breath feels. As you bring your attention back to your breath, it will return your focus to the present moment.

MAINTAIN CONNECTION TO OUR BODY - Bring your awareness to the sensations you feel in your body. Focus on the pleasure you are experiencing.

MAKE EYE CONTACT - Lock eyes with your lover! Eye contact will focus your attention at the moment, create a sense of closeness, and bring about a feeling of safety and comfort.


You have to know your body to appreciate the differences between you and your partner. Take time to learn your unique sexual response cycle. The cycle has four phases: excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. You and your partner's process may differ in how long you stay in each stage and each phase's intensity. So don't expect it to look the same. Appreciate the differences and enjoy learning about your lover's cycle.

Enjoy trying these tips! Desire differences are normal, so embrace the journey and focus on creating the pleasure you deserve!

- Kaycee Polite, LCSW-S

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