When different sex drives in a relationship become a problem

16 June 2020

Many couples experience different levels of sex drive at some point in their relationship.

For some couples differences in sex drive may have been present from the start of the relationship. That’s common – and lots of people find ways of compromising that feel fine to both partners. For some people, their sex drive lessens over time and finding ways to talk about this together may help to prevent a partner feeling unloved and rejected.

If things seem to have changed for you and you’re concerned about it, try to work out what is causing the difference in your sex drives. Here are some of the things that can contribute:

  • If you’re in a relationship that doesn’t feel OK, then it may be that sex is not something you want to have with your partner. Many couples work through difficult relationship issues, either together or with the help of a counsellor, and sex becomes something that feels more possible again and may even be more rewarding than before. But no one should have sex against their will or feel pressurised into activities that don’t feel right nor comfortable.
  • Stress is one of the most common causes of reduced sex drive. Getting close to someone, however, can be a way of managing stress – although it’s important that we feel our partner is interested in how stressed we’re feeling and doesn’t ‘only want sex’.
  • Some mental health issues like depression and anxiety can lead to one partner withdrawing from sex or, in some cases, needing a lot more. Some physical ailments may have similar effects. If this is a problem for you, it may help to talk with your GP about alternative medication.
  • Becoming a parent is often exhausting. Sleepless nights, a routine that might feel very different to what you had before and the need to focus on caring for the new addition to the family can all take their toll on feeling like having sex, or even just getting close. Whether you’ve given birth, adopted or started fostering, many people find that the new demands they face can make any sort of sex life feel problematic. Taking time to explore how you feel – with a partner, friend or a counsellor – can help prevent sex becoming taboo and help you establish what you now need from your sex life and how it could be realistically managed.
  • Lots of life stages affect our bodies. Illness, ageing, pregnancy, weight and surgery can all affect how we feel about ourselves and our bodies and how much of our bodies we want to share with a partner. For some people, being sexual plays a part in feeling loved and accepted regardless of anything else that might be going on. For others, sex might be something that now feels out of reach or at the bottom of the priority list. Finding the right words when there may be other serious problems can feel overwhelming and it may be difficult for a partner to understand how you’re feeling.

If you recognise any of this, it could useful to talk to with one of our sex therapists or counsellors who can help you work through your feelings on your own or as a couple. If you’d like to give it a try, our friendly appointments team are here to help on 01234 356350.


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