Mismatched Libidos: Advice for the Higher Desire Partner

Kristin Hall

Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 10/04/2020

It’s a tale as old as time: Couples engage in the endless cycle of man wants sex, woman often  turns him down and repeat. But what happens when you swap the roles and it’s the woman wanting more sex... and the one facing sexual rejection?

The Complicated Challenge

Despite what society would lead you to believe, plenty of women operate with higher libidos than their partners. Managing differing sex drives is already difficult, but then you add the element of flipped social scripts. His masculinity may feel threatened because men are supposed to always be ready for sex. Your femininity may feel threatened because women are supposed to always be able to turn on their partners.

As if that’s not hard enough, toss in society’s dismissal of female sex drives. A man can want a high amount of sex and no one bats an eye. But when us ladies want a high amount of sex, we are often portrayed as a slut and made to feel as if something’s wrong with us.

This leads to a sensitive and frustrating situation. Woman may find themselves afraid of emasculating their partner by expressing they need more sex than they’re getting. Or they may wrestle with “shame” surrounding having a high sex drive and not being “normal”. Or they may struggle with feeling the situation is indicative of them not being attractive enough or that something is wrong with the relationship.

But rest assured—you are normal for wanting more sex than you’re getting! All couples struggle with managing differing libidos. The good news is you and your partner can navigate to a place where all parties are happy.

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It’s the old relationship cliche here again—you have to communicate. Your partner isn’t a mind reader. He may have no clue you want more sex than you’re having (and plenty of men will be thrilled to hear that’s the case). A simple conversation could be all you need to get you both racing for the bedroom more often.

Or maybe the situation is more complex than that, and sometimes a conversation is all it takes to help you both unpack it. He may share that he’s feeling overwhelmed at work and needs more time to unwind before sex gets initiated. Maybe his brakes are getting pumped because he feels disconnected from you and needs more closeness. Whatever the reason, talking about it can help you express your needs and see where he’s coming from. This could illuminate something that needs to change that leads to you both feeling better (and possibly having more sex too!)

Initiate Sex

Sometimes getting more sex is as simple as initiating it yourself! If you always wait for him to make a move and are let down, meet him halfway. Help him feel comfortable and seduced and see where things go.

Take a Break From Initiating

Maybe the opposite is happening. It’s easy to fall into a pattern where you ask, he says no, you both feel bad and repeat. Give him a chance to pursue you on his own timeline. This isn’t coming from a gender stereotype way (“only men should initiate sex”) of course! But sometimes the partner who often says no will enjoy the space to initiate on their own timeline. It can help take the pressure off and be a welcome change to the dynamic for you both.

When You Get the “No”

Even after trying these strategies, you will still inevitably be faced with situations where you want and your partner doesn’t.  How you feel about the situation is heavily influenced by how you react to the no.

It can be hard, but try not to take it personally. Sexual rejection stings and often more so for women. We rarely encounter it, which can make it a pretty jarring experience that may lead to internalizing the rejection. It can be hard not to interpret the “no” as a reflection of your own attractiveness or appeal, but rarely is that ever the case. More likely your partner just isn’t feeling it. He could be tired, cold, hungry, stressed or a million other reasons that have nothing to do with you.

Next, be intentional with how you respond to the no. It’s fair for you to feel disappointed, but it’s never okay to make your partner feel bad about it. Don’t make your partner feel guilty or like saying “no” is a problem. You also don’t need to go overboard reassuring him that everything’s fine. Just a simple, genuine “no worries babe” is often enough. We also recommend encouraging your partner to read this article on our brother site about how he can help make the “no” better for you

That leaves one final task: finding a new way to get your needs met! Think about why you were wanting sex. If it was purely physical, engage in some self-love and masturbate. If it was connection to your partner, do something fun together (like go for a hike or play a board game). If it was affection from your partner, see if he would be open to cuddling or giving you a massage. If it was releasing stress, go do a workout or meditate. Sex may have been the easiest way to meet your need, but it’s by no means the only one.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.