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How To Deal With Mismatched Libidos


The is a picture of a couple with mismatched libidos.

Most couples go through normal ebbs and flows in their relationship, and can, at times, find themselves on a stuck on different sexual pages. Couples endure mismatched libidos whenever one partner has a higher sex drive, or libido, than the other.


Every person has a different relationship with sexual desire and there is no objectively correct level of libidinal charge. Many couples experience mismatched libidos, but with empathy, safe communication, and patience, couples can create a plan for healthy and hot sexual intimacy, that works for all parties.

What are Mismatched Libidos?


It’s very common for couples to experience differences in their desire for sex or libido. Whether It’s an imbalance impacting a short or long term relationship, couples can learn to navigate their differences and experience enjoyable sex.


Some couples easily find ways to work through the differences with little to no problems, but others may struggle to communicate their needs and perspective. In this situation, active communication between partners about how they are feeling is the key to finding a solution.


Each person’s libido is fluid. Depending on their physical and mental health, and daily stresses, interest in sex can fluctuate. For some people, sex is on the brain more often, which can lead to wanting sex every day or multiple times a day. Others may have a lower libido, and be content with sex less frequently. But whether a couple is on the same page or feeling in the mood at different times, is not an indication of a problem in the core of the relationship.  Mismatched libidos can often be just that; mismatched.


Managing the Desire Discrepancy


It’s not uncommon for couples to feel guilt or even frustration with experiencing desire discrepancy. The person with the high sex drive might feel rejected when their partner doesn’t want to have sex, while the lower libido partner might feel guilty or even resentful that they don’t feel in the mood at the moments their partner wants to be intimate.


This is where empathy comes in. Even if one partner doesn’t fully understand the other’s perspective or experience, they can demonstrate empathy by listening, validating their feelings, and refraining from judgment. The more open the couple is to talking through their differences, and really holding space for each other’s varying needs, fears and experiences, the better the chance they have of rekindling a hot spark together.


A primary factor underlying low libido is performance anxiety around sex. If this is the case, couples can often work through mismatched libidos by redefining what successful sex means to them. For example, couples can still experience pleasure and sexual connection without intercourse, or without the pressure of having to achieve an orgasm to see it as a positive moment.


There are many ways non penetrative sex can feel good, such as oral sex, mutual masturbation, intimate massages, and more. Sex doesn’t have to be traditional and end with an orgasm to be pleasurable and connective for a couple. Talking through each other’s fears, anxieties and expectations around orgasmic potential can help a couple redefine a new template that meets the couple’s needs.


Another option couples have when dealing with desire discrepancy is working together with a sex therapist. A sex therapist helps couples and individuals who struggle with issues around sex, experience sexual or orgasmic dysfunctions, have history of sexual trauma, or wish to explore and understand themselves better, when it comes to sexuality.


A Certified Sex Therapist can specifically be helpful for couples who struggle with mismatched libidos as they are able to help couples communicate in a safe, non-judgmental environment, offer insight the couples may not be aware of, offer solutions and plans to improve the couple’s sex life, and help the couple navigate any issues that come up for the couple along the way.


Sex therapy can also potentially provide education on why one’s libido is on the higher or lower end. They are likely able to use the couple’s individual sex drive capacity and arousal template to form solutions that works for the couple, while still maintaining each other’s needs, and assisting the couple to compromise when safe and necessary.


Getting on the Same Page


Ultimately, having mismatched libidos is not a death sentence for a relationship. It often takes some patience, strategy, openness, and understanding from all parties of the relationship, but it can certainly be done. Many couples struggle with issues around intimacy, and when they address it together, there are no limits to the satisfaction they may cultivate in the bedroom.

But sweeping intimacy issues under the rug often prolongs the problems, and intimacy ambivalence further keeps couples stuck. With practice, non-judgmental, and empathetic communication, couples can tackle mismatched libidos and intimacy can thrive.

Modern Intimacy is a group therapy practice, founded by renowned Psychologist and Sex Therapist, Dr. Kate Balestrieri. This inclusive blog is designed to provide a wealth of information and resources for mental health, relationships, and sexuality. Subscribe today to get the latest information from our expert contributors from all around the world.


Author Bio

Kayla Tricaso is the Office Manager and Patient Intake Specialist at Modern Intimacy. Passionate about mental health and social justice, Kayla spends her free time listening to true crime podcasts, reading and working on her personal memoir.



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    • Kate Balestrieri

      Thank you! We are glad this article resonated with you!

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