Mismatched sex drives: What to do when your libidos don’t match

You get on great, believe in the same things, love the same restaurants. Everything’s going swimmingly…until you realise that there’s one place where you guys aren’t synced up. The bedroom. The Mix talks you through what to do when your libidos don’t match.

A young couple is playing pool. They have mismatched sex drives.

Why do mismatched sex drives happen?

Some couples start to panic when their sex drives don’t match. But it’s important for either partner not to spiral or feel rejected. Our levels of sexual desire naturally change throughout our lives. Inevitably, this means that they won’t always match up perfectly with those of our partner. It’s just part of being human. But that’s probably not enough to quell your concerns. So let’s have a look at some possible explanations and what to do if your libidos don’t match:

Changes to how often you have sex changes are normal

If you’re beyond the lust and passion stage in the start of a new relationship, it’s common to find that you settle into a pattern where you have sex less often. That’s fine, because the quality of sex is much more important than the quantity. You’ve made a sexual connection and know each other’s bodies better. This means you can be more relaxed with one another, which is far more important than putting notches on the bedpost. However, if you’ve just got stuck in a rut, you could both try making a bit more of an effort. Check out our article on how much sex is normal here.

Do mismatched sex drives mean your partner doesn’t fancy you?

Be careful not to automatically assume that your partner doesn’t fancy you any more simply because you guys have a mismatched libido, or that they want to leave you. If they’re still being affectionate and haven’t changed in their other behaviour towards you in any other way then that is unlikely to be the case. It’s not necessarily a reflection of your prowess as a lover, or your all-round attractiveness. 

Remember, there’s no set number of times per week that couples should be having sex, every couple is different. In fact, it’s quite normal for someone to feel super-horny one month, and less interested in sex the next. It’s also important to note that it’s sometimes the person with the higher sex drive who has the problem. Neither of those should be a deal breaker.

Stress, depression and medication all affect libido

Rather than getting fed up or irritated with them, show your significant other some care and concern. Ask yourself – could they be tired, stressed out by work, feeling down, or taking medication? All of the above can seriously affect their sex drive. So you should definitely support them during this trying time. In other words, don’t make them feel pressured into having sex. It’ll only make you look selfish, and make them feel even worse. Besides you should never have sex with someone who doesn’t really want it in the first place. 

Problems within the relationship can also lead to an angry, neglected or hurt partner withholding sex. Whether they’re doing it consciously or subconsciously. Either way, have open and honest conversations with your partner about the way you feel and make sure they feel supported if they’re not feeling as resilient as usual. We’re sure things’ll sort themselves as long as you’re willing to be patient.

How to cope with mismatched sex drives

Try not to stress out about the situation too much. It could just be something temporary. The best move is to talk it through gently and calmly with your partner, without making threats or accusations. By going about it in this way, you’ll probably find that there’s a simple reason for any recent changes. If that’s the case, work it through together. You can always masturbate to relieve the sexual tension in the meantime; it’s healthy and very good for you.

If things don’t get better

Depending on the cause of the change, it could be time to go for relationship counselling, see a sex therapist, try psychosexual therapy, or get a medical check-up. Especially if this desire discrepancy has been going on for a while. If they continue to refuse to discuss the matter, constantly behave coldly towards you, or won’t get help for physical or psychosexual problems, there’s not much else you can do. Although it might be worth thinking more seriously about your relationship. Check out our guide to common relationship problems here.

Next Steps

  • Brook provides free sexual health and wellbeing services for young people in the UK. Brook's services include local clinics and online digital sex and relationships tool.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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sex drive

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 03-Jul-2022