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Updated on May 27, 2020. Posted on May 26, 2020

What To Do If Your Sex Drive Is Much Lower (or Higher) Than Your Partner's

Having very different sex drives — especially right now — is more common than you think.

Whether you're quarantining with your partner or maintaining a long-distance relationship right now, you might be experiencing vastly different levels of sexual desire.

Thanks to a little more (or less) free time or routine, you might be feeling more turned on than ever — but your partner might be too stressed to even think about having sex at all. Or, vice versa: You could be getting flirty sexts at all hours of the day but barely muster the energy to type back a ";)".

To help, we asked an expert for advice. If you're struggling with very different sex drives right now, here are seven things you can try.

1. Go easy on yourself if you've suddenly lost interest in sex.

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"A lowered sex drive can be caused by many factors, including physical, psychological, physiological and relational," says Antonia Hall, a psychologist and sex and relationships expert. Not only is beating yourself up for having a lower sex drive incredibly unkind towards yourself during a particularly difficult time, but it can also make things worse.

"Give yourself a break by seeing a bigger picture," suggests Hall. "This is a globally unprecedented time, and most of us are dealing with understandable increases in stress, which is a common contributor to lowered desire levels." Even if you've convinced yourself that you're relatively fine because you still have a job and a comfy home, there are still many aspects of sheltering in place that can add up and spike your anxiety.

2. Don't put pressure on your partner to make sex happen (or view it as rejection if they're not into it.)

NBC

"Having mismatched desire levels is incredibly common, and [if you're] the one with the higher drive, it's important not to put pressure on your partner if they're not feeling the same way," says Hall. Sexual coercion has absolutely no place in a healthy relationship, and even saying things like "you never want to have sex with me anymore!" can make a person feel guilty or like they "owe" sex to you—pretty much the opposite of what will actually turn a person on.

Of course, it can be frustrating to feel like you're not wanted, which is why you should refrain from thinking about it that way. "It's equally important not to make yourself feel bad about wanting sex more than your partner does, which often leads to feelings of rejection," says Hall. Again, sex drives are dependent on much more than just sexual stimuli. A person usually needs to feel safe, secure, and calm in order to fully experience lust, and in the present circumstances, it can be tougher than usual.

3. Be honest about how you feel — without blaming each other.

Next Plateau

"Being willing to have an honest discussion about this situation will help take the pressure off of what can otherwise become a mounting issue in the relationship," says Hall. Plus, using this as an opportunity to be vulnerable around each other can actually strengthen your partnership in the long-run.

If you want to talk to your significant other about how you feel, it might be good to plan part of it. For instance, Hall recommends picking a "safe, uninterrupted space like a living room [and] not the bedroom," and to approach it from a non-blaming, friendly way. Use "I feel..." over "you make me..." statements — and stay focused on a solution. "[If] you aren't matching up sexually," says Hall. "Where can you comfortably meet each other?"

4. See where you can switch up your non-sexual routine.

Paramount

Quarantine can make present life feel monotonous and limiting, with one day easily bleeding into the next. While having more free afternoons or Netflix nights can ramp up one person's horniness, they can make another feel completely disconnected with themselves.

"Try to make more time for what feels good and nourishing to your body, which can start naturally stirring up desire," says Hall. "Replace outside distractions — TV binging, excessive social media — with healthy, physical experiences you enjoy." Even small changes like getting yourself to go on more (socially-distant) walks outside can add up to make a huge difference.

5. Take matters into your own hands.

HBO

"Masturbation is an excellent way to take away any pressure on the person with the lower drive, while reducing frustrations for the person with the higher drive," says Hall. "Being honest about sexual needs opens the door for solutions, and masturbating when a partner isn't in the mood is often the best option."

Same goes for having a lower sex drive but wanting to masturbate on your own for now. It's important that your partner understands that this isn't a strike against them, as much as you wanting some solo time (especially since, in normal life, you naturally would have more time apart to masturbate on your own.)

If you're comfortable with the idea, masturbating in front of your partner or mutual masturbation can be a nice way to still connect sexually without the pressure of having full-on intercourse. "Perhaps you want to invite your partner to watch or join, but remove any sexual expectations on your partner," says Hall.

6. Reevaluate your day-to-day schedules.

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For some people, work right now is busier than ever, especially if departments have been cut and you're taking on additional work. Add kids, pets, or endless Zooms, and it's easy to forget what having sexy thoughts even feels like.

"Scheduling sex doesn't sound sexy, but it can be a great solution for a lot of couples when energy levels aren't matching up," says Hall. "Mixing up when and where you have sex can also be a wonderful way to add excitement."

For instance, if one of you always feels depleted after a long work day, having a glass of wine and trying to bone at 10 p.m. might not be the move. You can try, instead, to carve out time in the morning — even just by cuddling a little longer.

However, Hall does note that "if one person in a relationship has little to no drive, adding pressure for sex is likely to add to frustrations." That's why she says it's good to "schedule a date with sex off the table, and keep the focus on simply reconnecting with each other."

7. Make each other feel good when sex isn't part of the equation.

Freeform

Speaking of pressure, what could be more obviously pressure-inducing (and TBH, really annoying) than a partner suddenly being uncharacteristically sweet and physically touchy because they clearly want to have sex? If a person is only complimented in a sexual way and treated wonderfully when sex is potentially on the table, it makes sex feel like it's separate from who they are, or like it's work they have to get done to please their partner.

Instead, Hall suggests "bringing in the elements of playfulness and flirtation" throughout all aspects of the relationship. "Never underestimate the power of genuine appreciation!" she says. Thanking your partner for supporting you when you feel down or being told that you look beautiful even when you hate your sweatpants adds up — and is ultimately the most important part of feeling close to each other. Without it, it's really hard to have a great sexual connection to begin with.

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