My partner and I have different levels of sexual interest. How can we deal with sexual libido mismatch?

When partners in a romantic relationship have different levels of desire or interest in sexual activities, it may be traceable to larger, more serious issues in the relationship. Communication is the key when you disagree in this area. Many experts agree that the quality of your relationship with your sexual partner is likely to have the biggest effect on your sexual libido and your frequency of intimacy.

If you're ready to try to get in sync with your partner about sexual desire and frequency and are trying to resolve some of your sexual health concerns, the first activity should be talking. Get to the basis of the sexual mismatch. Like many issues in relationships, communication and compromise are often the best solution and answer. Be careful and considerate in your approach. It is not only what you say but how you say it, and the method of discussion should be in a calm, nonaccusatory fashion. If your partner wants intimacy much more often than you do, try to come to some agreement so that neither partner is feeling pressured or neglected. Try to prevent any heightened emotional outbursts with undertones of anger, resentment, and distrust.

Focus on your own feelings and limitations without pointing the finger and being overly critical of your partner. Some practical suggestions to increase emotional connectedness are as follows:

• Increase your displays of affection: hug, kiss, caress, and compliment each other often.

• Reigniting passion may be awkward at first. Take your time, and focus on passion and intimacy rather than goals of intercourse or orgasm.

• Spending quality time together may help heighten your romantic connection.

• Share your sexual thoughts and desires as well as fantasies even if awkward at first. Listen without judgment.

• For the higher libido partner: try to accept no without personal offence and consider self-stimulation as an alternative acceptable sexual behavior and release.

• For the lower libido partner: consider engaging in some type of foreplay and sexual activity even if not 100% in the mood because some sexual research theory supports the notion that the more you engage in sex, the more likely you may desire it.

If you are still struggling and this is causing conflict in your relationship, do not be afraid to consult a sexual medicine specialist for mismatched libidos. Sometimes professional help with a counselor can also be beneficial.

May-December Relationships, Cradle Robbers, and Cougars Revised

May-December relationships often mean relationships in which there is a large age discrepancy between partners. Along with the cradle robber (older man with a young woman) and the cougar (older woman with young man), these types of relationships may sometimes lead to mismatch in libido. There is a considerable double standard in societal judgment regarding relationships in which there are huge age mismatches—society still frowns upon older women with younger boyfriends, whereas many congratulate older men with young girlfriends. Many assume that money, social status, or something else is behind the coupling; love and attraction are seldom mentioned in the backroom whispers.

Sometimes the age difference is not an issue, and couples with large age differences can navigate this difference when others, because of age, declining hormones, or superimposed medical, physical, and or psychological illnesses, succumb to mismatch in sexual desire and frequency. If there is any doubt as to the cause of the libido mismatch, do not hesitate to seek medical care and get a detailed sexual health evaluation and comprehensive treatment plan.

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