Take charge of your health. Sign up for HealthyWomen newsletters:
Sex & Relationships > orgasm
Find out more about:
couple kissing

Understanding Your Sex Drive: When One of You Wants It More

Share on:

Remember when you first started dating your partner? Remember the emotional and physical excitement you felt? And when you finally went to bed together...well, does the experience still make you blush? Were those your golden days of sex—when lovemaking was energizing, intense and something you couldn't wait to do?

But now, after five years, a kid, perhaps, and a mortgage, have things changed? Maybe you've changed. Maybe your partner is still happy to have sex as often as he shaves, but for you sex has possibly become just one more thing on your to-do list. If you have sex once a week, heck, even once every two weeks, you're happy. Well, maybe not so happy. Maybe you're wondering what is wrong with you that you don't want to have sex as often as your partner. After all, it's possible some of your girlfriends complain about just the opposite: that they want to have sex more often than their partners!

The ironic thing is that you still like making love. You usually have an orgasm, you always feel more relaxed afterward, and the two of you are definitely closer in the days following.

So what's going on?

It's possible you are changing and you and he have some differences. One way to put this into perspective is to think about how you and your partner differ in other ways. He likes to play golf every weekend; you'd rather curl up with a book. You could eat ice cream every night; he's happy with it once a month. Get the picture? As in many things, you are different when it comes to your individual sex drives.

The question is whether something else might be going on. After all, drive is only part of what comprises desire. Motivation is the other just-as-important part. Motivation reflects the psychological and interpersonal factors that create a willingness or interest to be sexual with your partner. For instance, some research suggests that when one partner in a relationship has a low sex drive, it could be a way of gaining control in the relationship by unconsciously "withholding" sex. This represents a motive, albeit one against sex. Or it could be a way of demonstrating your unhappiness with the relationship. In other words, if you are unhappy with your relationship, you have no interest in having sex with someone you are not happy with outside of the bedroom.

But say you're happy in the relationship. Say you really do love your partner, and you really wish that your sex drive were just as...driven. You just don't have the motivation right now to get it there.

Here are a few suggestions that could help rekindle your passion:

  • Sit down and have an open and honest talk about your differences in sex drive. Talking about the issues can help improve communication and intimacy.

  • Tell your husband/partner/lover that while you are flattered by the obvious sexual desire for you, and while your love is strong, you just can't reciprocate as often.

  • Explain to your partner that saying "no, not tonight," is not a personal rejection. You're saying no because of a difference in sex drive—a difference in craving, if you will.

  • Act as a team to ease defensiveness and solve your differences about how often you want to have sex.

  • Work on compromise. So, for instance, if your partner wants sex five times a week and you want sex once a week (or less), perhaps try having sex twice a week for awhile.

  • Schedule the sex just as you would schedule a pedicure or haircut. By scheduling in sex and spending the days and hours leading up to the "appointment" thinking about it, you are, at the same time, putting yourself into a sexual state of mind.

After a month, have another sit-down discussion with your partner. How are things working out? Is your partner feeling more physically satisfied? Are you feeling more connected? Are the two of you still enjoying the lovemaking?

If so, it might be time to move things along to the next level. Start by making another "sex date." Because here's the thing: The more often you make love, the more you may find yourself wanting to make love!

But, what if the opposite occurs? Instead of wanting to have sex more often, you find that your desire really hasn't changed and, after a few weeks of trying, you really don't want to make love—not even twice a week. Now it's time for your partner to make concessions.

For instance, you will be the initiator for the next month. You both agree that you will only have intercourse when you initiate it. See how that goes, and after a month, add up how often you made love. Talk about how you both felt. If either of you felt the amount of lovemaking was problematic, that's when it's time to consult a professional.

Start with your health care professional to make sure there is nothing physically wrong; then, consider meeting with a sex or couples therapist.

And remember, the most important component of any sexually related issue is not the sex itself, but how you communicate about the sex and your individual desires and satisfaction.