It Takes Two to Tango: What to Do When Your Sex Drives Don’t Line Up
It Takes Two to Tango: What to Do When Your Sex Drives Don’t Line Up

It Takes Two to Tango: What to Do When Your Sex Drives Don’t Line Up

Along with trust and honesty, sex is crucial to a long-term relationship, so it’s important to know your partner's wants and needs. Time to cross those boundaries.
February 5, 2017
7 mins read

Let’s Talk About Sex

Along with trust and honesty, sex is crucial to a long-term relationship, so it’s important to know your partner’s wants and needs. Time to cross those boundaries.

By Lindsay Biondy, University of Pittsburgh

Sex is fun, and it feels good.

It’s a crucial part of any successful relationship, and just as important as communication or trust. Being sexually incompatible is difficult to overcome, not only because someone is inevitably going to be left unsatisfied, but because it can lead to frustration and resentment. Bad sex can be a deal-breaker in some situations, and that’s okay. I’m not trying to preach at you. I know from experience.

My boyfriend and I have been dating for just over a year, and our honeymoon phase is long over. We’ve been with other people before, so we had no qualms about sex. But once the newness of the relationship wore off and we settled into our natural patterns, we learned that our sex drives were on completely opposite sides of the spectrum.

While I wanted to have sex multiple times a week, he was happy with just once every one or two weeks. I was incredibly frustrated, but what could I do? I didn’t want to break up with him, and I couldn’t make him want to have sex with me. Eventually, though, we were able to talk it out and find something that worked for us, so here’s some tips to hopefully help you too.

1. Communicate

It seems so obvious and cliché, but it’s cliché for a reason. Talking about your sex life is an awkward conversation to have, no matter how long you’ve been together, but the most important and productive thing to do is to talk to your partner calmly, without any hostility or accusations.

Tell them you’re concerned about your sex life, whether you want more or less. Make sure your partner is okay emotionally. Are they stressed? Are they tired? Are they hungry?

Most likely, if their low sex drive is a recent development, it has nothing to do with you, and the best thing to do is be patient and supportive.

It Takes Two to Tango: What to Do When Your Sex Drives Don’t Line Up
image via greatist

Remember, what seems obvious to you might not be so obvious to them. You might think you’re giving all the signals that you’re ready and willing, but they might have no idea. Don’t feel guilty about wanting to have sex, and don’t feel guilty for not wanting it.

Most importantly, don’t assume they can read your mind. Be open, be honest and make sure they know they can be open and honest with you without judgment.

2. Create a Want/Will/Won’t List

Not only will writing down what you want help your communication, it will bring up certain parts of your sex life that you haven’t even thought about.

According to clinical sexologist Dr. Lindsey Doe, a Want/Will/Won’t List is a list (duh) that’s separated into three categories: will, want and won’t (again, duh). The ultimate goal is to understand what exactly you want, will and won’t do in your sex life, whether it’s in regard to foreplay, hygiene or actual sex acts.

“Want” is your ideal situation, and the ambitions you have for your sex life. For example, I want monogamy, I want pegging and I want cuddling before and after sex.

“Will” is like a common ground. You’re open to it, and you’ll participate because it’s something that your partner wants, but you’re not totally into it. Some examples? I will give blowjobs, I will role play or I will participate in mutual masturbation.

“Won’t” is the hard no’s. No amount of persuasion will change your mind, so don’t ask again. I won’t do PDA, I won’t bareback and I won’t engage in knife play.

It Takes Two to Tango: What to Do When Your Sex Drives Don’t Line Up
image via men’s health

Absolutely anything is up for grabs, whether it’s inherently sexual or not. I recommend thirty to forty items per list, which might sound like a lot, so if you need any help coming up with ideas, check out this video.

You and your partner will make your own lists, then compare and see what overlaps and what doesn’t. See what you are and aren’t willing to compromise on. Finally, make sure you both understand what each person means by each term, because some may be ambiguous.

3. Don’t Get Angry

Being sexually frustrated is incredibly frustrating, and it makes sense that it would be directed at your partner. But remember, you can’t get mad at someone for not wanting to have sex. It doesn’t matter if it’s been a week, a month or three months, it’s not okay to get mad.

It might be really hard to keep your emotions bottled up, so try letting them out in a more constructive way, like yoga, painting or masturbation. One of them is much more fun than the others. (You guessed it, yoga.)

Getting angry won’t solve your problem, assuming your problem is that you want to have more sex. Do you think yelling at your partner will make them want to have sex with you? No. It’ll only make things worse, and it might even spark a fight. It’s okay if you get into a disagreement over your sex lives, but just make sure it’s constructive. Listen to your partner, and always use your inside voices.

4. Have Sex When You Don’t Want To

You’re probably thinking, “That’s horrible advice,” but stay with me, because there’s some truth behind it. In every relationship, you need to make compromises. Sometimes you do things purely because it would make your partner happy, like seeing a musical or going to a baseball game, even though they’re not things you’d really enjoy.

Sometimes sex is one of those things. If you’re really not feeling it, you’re exhausted, you’re feeling horribly unsexy or you just masturbated but you don’t want to tell them, then of course, you don’t have to have sex. You never have to have sex.

But, if you can tell your partner really wants to, and you’re indifferent one way or the other, then go for it. There’s a good chance they want to do it a lot more than you don’t want to do it.

Lindsay Biondy, University of Pittsburgh

English Writing, Legal Studies
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