What to do if you're in a relationship with mismatched libidos

A new survey has revealed almost three quarters of us have been in a relationship with mismatched libidos [Photo: Getty]
A new survey has revealed almost three quarters of us have been in a relationship with mismatched libidos [Photo: Getty]

“Not tonight dear I’ve got a headache.” When it comes to sex, there are some gender stereotypes that persist, one being that men want to do it more than women.

But new research has revealed that might not necessarily be the case with four out of ten women claiming to want sex more than their partner.

The survey, of 2,000 people, by IllicitEncounters.com found that 43% of women said they had a higher sex drive than their male lover and they found this frustrating.

Challenging the age-old stereotype that it is always men who want more sex in a relationship, there was actually little difference between the sexes, with 42% of men saying they wanted sex more than their wife or girlfriend.

The survey also found that couples should beware the mismatched libido as this was cited as a reason in over 52% of affairs.

More than half of women who cheated (54%), and a similar number of men (56%) claim they strayed because they wanted more sex than their regular partner.

Three-quarters of couples (72%) have found themselves in a relationship with mismatched libidos.

And, of those couples where one partner wanted sex more than the other, two-thirds (62%) said that having different sex drives had been a factor in their eventual split.

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Six out of ten women (62%) and 59% of men said that having different libidos was a 'red flag' which would spark immediate concern as to whether a new relationship would last.

But while women try to address the subject with three quarters (74%) of women with a higher sex drive admitting to discussing it with their partner to try, only 57% of highly sexed men have done the same.

So what can couples do if they find themselves in a mismatched libido relationship?

"The worst thing you can do as a couple if you have mismatched libidos is to ignore the problem,” says Jessica Leoni, relationship expert with IllicitEncounters.com.

"What will typically happen is that the partner with the higher sex drive will repeatedly try to initiate sex and be turned down.”

Jessica says it’s likely the excuses from both men and women for not wanting sex will get increasingly desperate - I'm tired, I've got a headache, I'm not in the mood, I'm stressed with work, the kids might hear us.

"This will create long-term resentment and damage the self-esteem of the person with the higher libido,” she says.

"If you love your partner and want to make the relationship work, it is possible find ways to bring your sex drives into alignment.”

Four out of ten women want sex more regularly than their partner [Photo: Getty]
Four out of ten women want sex more regularly than their partner [Photo: Getty]

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Schedule sex

Booking in a time to have sex might not sound romantic but according to Jessica it can help when one of you isn’t on the same sex drive page.

"Scheduling sex works for couples with mismatched libidos for a number of reasons,” says Jessica Leoni.

"Firstly, you are acknowledging there is a issue and you are making sex part of your regular routine.

"With sex, it is vital that you keep doing it. If you get out of the habit, you can easily become one of those couples who never have sex.”

Jessica says scheduling sex also makes it easier for the partner with the lower libido to get into the mood.

"In scheduling sex, you are both signalling that you are up for it. Hopefully you will make more of an effort and both derive greater satisfaction out of the sex mainly because you both go into sex with a positive attitude.”

According to Jessica there are a number of reasons why our sex drives might alter.

"Most couples have fairly evenly matched libidos when they first get together,” she explains. “They can diverge for a number of reasons - hormones, kids,
changes in circumstance.

"But with effort, patience and understanding, there is no reason why you
cannot bring them back into alignment. Scheduling sex helps lots of
couples to do that."

Open up

"Talk about your sex life - are you really making the most of it? Are their changes you can make that will increase the libido of the partner who is less keen on sex,” suggests Jessica.

"No relationship is perfect and there are compromises to be made on both sides."

Masturbate away the mismatch

A survey by sex toy retailer Lovehoney found that 80% of couples carry on masturbating when they are in a relationship.

"There is nothing wrong with carrying on masturbating even when you are in a relationship,” says Lovehoney sex and relationship Annabelle Knight.

"It can make you a better lover - giving you more control over your orgasm. That can help men in particular to last longer in bed if they suffer from premature ejaculation.”

Switch up you sex routine

Annabelle Knight says another way to bring libidos into alignment is to shake up your sexual routine.

"Don't be boring and do it the same way,in the same place, at the same time each and every time,” she advises.

She suggests writing out a favourite fantasy on a post-it note and putting it in a jar.

“Take it in turns to take out one of the notes once or twice a week and live it out for real.

Experimenting with sex toys might also help reignite a spark.

"And please remember, sex is not always brilliant. No one has fireworks every time. There is nothing wrong with sex which is 70% below capacity - you are still connecting and enjoying each other's bodies," Annabelle adds.