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16 Feb 2022 (Last updated 22 Jan 2024)

A sex therapist’s guide to mismatched libido

Pleasure Tips 3 min read
Mismatched Libido Kaycee Polite

Each of us has a different libido - that’s our desire for sex. This sexual drive, as libido is also known, ebbs and flows throughout our lives and can be impacted by so many things. It’s also a thing no matter whether we’re talking about solo or partnered sex. Our urge for sexual activity comes out in lots of ways; erotic thoughts, masturbation, kissing… Libido isn’t how much you want to have sex with somebody else.

Libido and our partners.

Learning about our own libido, and how it can change regularly, can help us own our sexual script - the more we understand about ourselves, the more we can create our own expectations rather than those put upon us by society or others. Here. For. That.

If we consider just how unique our sexual selves are, it then makes waaaay more sense that when two or more of us come together sexually, we might not literally come together. Furthermore, that our libidos will perfectly match and we’ll live in sex drive harmony. It’s just not possible to always be on the level.

Sometimes the libido differences are more obvious, and can cause frustration between partners and those in relationships. Mismatched libidos are so common; for those coupled up, one in three have desire differences. But, there’s one really important thing sex therapists want us to know: your sexual desire is no indication for your love or attraction for your partner.

We asked sex therapist Kaycee Polite to breakdown the limited thinking around libido, and share tips and advice to improve a sexual relationship when you and your partner have different sex drives.

Partner questions for mismatched libido.

Every month, sit down and do a check-in and ask yourselves some questions so you can review and see where you are at when it comes to partner sex. Think about taking notes, because the answers might change form month-to-month and you might want to see how it changes.

  1. What can I start doing that would make you feel more loved and appreciated?
  2. Are there any mental health or medical issues that are impacting your ability to fully experience sex, pleasure and intimacy?

By asking each other these questions on a regular basis, you're strengthening your communication and impacting your bond. Also, you are really creating an open and honest dialogue about what you each need in the relationship.

Rethink sex together.

Stop putting limits on it, there are no limits. Sex is not confined to penetration. There are so many different things that you can do to engage in sexual activity with your partner. It's not always about penetration. There is mutual masturbation, there is sensual touch of the erogenous zones, playing with sex toys, listening to erotica… there's so many different things you can do. So broaden your horizons together.

Three tips for mismatched libido.

1. Connect to your sensuality.

Why is this important? Because each person in the relationship needs to validate their own sensual self. You can't rely on a partner to give that to you. This is a unique, individual experience and relationship. One of the ways that you can do that is to create sensual selfies. Take a picture of yourself, recognise your sensuality, you don't have to be nude, but it's a wonderful connection point.

2. Make sex mindful.

Use partnered sex to connect to mindfulness. This is a great way for you to practice being in the moment, to fully indulge all of your senses into the moment of all your sexual intimacy. Don't think about meal planning, laundry, work projects… this isn't the time for that, be fully present in those moments with your partner/s.

3. Know your sexual response cycle.

You need to know your cycle so that you can communicate that to your partner. That self-awareness is key. Now, you’re asking, what is a sexual response cycle? It’s the emotional and physical changes that occur when we get aroused, and guess what? Yep – it’s different for everyone. So, you both need to know yours. Kind of like how knowing your love language can help you appreciate and understand each other more, so can knowing each other’s response cycle.

The most important thing to remember is that sex with a partner is meant to be fun, and pleasurable for all involved. Sussing out each other’s libidos, and acknowledging the mismatch is a great step to experiencing a partnered sex life that you want and deserve.

Talking of fun, introducing vibrators into partnered sex can be a great way to spark excitement and creates an opportunity to explore your bodies together.

Kaycee Polite helps individuals and couples cultivate pleasure and improve their relationships. Want more tips and advice? Kaycee holds sex therapy and workshops - check them out.

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