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How can my partner and I handle differing sexual desire levels?

Ian Kerner, PhD
Sexual Health

One solution is to embrace your desire differences and find a frequency that works for both of you. For the partner who wants more sex, consider what you really want. Is it to have more orgasms more often? If so, then masturbate some of the time. If it’s physical intimacy with your partner you want, perhaps you can share a bath or a massage with your partner -- without the expectation of sex. Make sure to kiss and hug each other just for the sake of kissing and hugging, without trying to have sex. Once you stop making every gesture of affection a proposition for sex, you may find that your partner starts initiating more often.

For the partner who wants less sex, be clear about what you’re saying “no” to, because your partner is apt to feel unattractive or rejected. Explain that you don’t want to have sex because you’re tired, or having a rough week, or upset today, or that you just don’t have the same level of desire as your partner (which is completely okay; two people rarely have exactly the same level of desire). Help your partner understand, then try to say “yes” some of the times you want to say “no” to meet in the middle ... and you just may find that as you kiss, hug, and take things further, you begin to get in the mood.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.