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Advice for when you and your partner have mismatched libidos

Advice for when you and your partner have mismatched libidos

Getting freaky in the sheets is different for everyone. But one thing is for sure – we are all constantly bombarded with the idea that we aren’t doing it enough. But what if that pressure is coming from inside the relationship? What if getting in sync just isn’t happening?

It’s pretty normal to have mismatched libidos when you have a long-term partner or partners – and, despite what you may hear, it’s not as simple as “women aren’t as horny as men”. That concept is actually quite damaging and dangerous – it pressures men to be hypersexual and shames women for the same thing. Sometimes, we can be perfectly happy with the amount of sex we’re having, but we feel an outside pressure that we should be doing it more, because that’s what “healthy” or “happy” couples do.

There’s a big difference between how much sex you actually want, how much sex you’re having, and how much sex you’d like to be having. It might be that you don’t get aroused very often, but that you want to be having more sex. There are lots of reasons why having frequent sex is good for you and for your relationship – it releases endorphins and chemicals that build a bond between you and your partner; it is a natural stress reliever, pain killer, mood enhancer and anxiety buster; it helps you sleep better; it can be good exercise; and it’s fun. But we need to encourage the idea that the amount of sex that you should be having is the amount of sex you want to be having. We’re not here to tell you how many times a week or month or year is “best” for you or “normal” because everyone is different. Plus, there are plenty of things that affect your libido that you have no control over: medication, menopause, pregnancy, alcohol, stress, age and hormones all have effects on your sex drive. 

If there is an issue of mismatched libidos in your relationship, there are lots of things to look at. First of all – are you both enjoying sex to the fullest extent possible? When you do have sex, do you have an orgasm? Does it last as long as you want it to? The better the sex is that you have, the more you’re going to want to do it more. So maybe, if one person in the relationship is wanting more sex than the other, it might be because they’re enjoying it more, or their needs are being met more frequently. 

Have you tried experimenting? Or do you always have sex in the same way? Adding experimentation, games and exploration into your sex life could open up avenues to worlds of pleasure you never knew you could experience. It might also transpire that the kind of things that you enjoy doing might not be “full” sex, i.e. you might really enjoy sexting, or mutual masturbation, or a little light BDSM or some foot play. We are obsessed with a heteronormative idea that sex, no matter which genders are involved, has to involve some kind of penetration to “be” sex, but that’s nonsense. Sex is whatever you want it to be.

Are you having sex or sexual relationships at the same time of day? Maybe after work is just never going to be a good time for you because you’re tired or you have other things you’d rather be doing. Or maybe you schedule date nights or holidays and then the pressure that you should be having sex kills the vibe of actually wanting to have sex. 

Does your partner constantly ask for it and you find yourself saying no? Or are you always asking for it, and then being rejected, and feeling miserable about being turned down? Try and understand how this situation makes you feel. Unwanted? Pressured? Guilty? Maybe you can try doing sensual things together that aren’t a lead up to sex. Find a way to be intimate with each other, without the pressure of having to have sex. Take a bath or shower together, and explicitly state that it isn’t a way to get in each others pants but rather to find intimacy and closeness. Chances are you both know that there is a mismatch in your libidos – and approaching the subject can feel difficult. Communication really is key here though.

If you’ve really noticed a drop in your libido, or your partner has, there are lots of things you can do to raise it again. We have a whole section on our app that is designed specifically for this – with habit builders, practical exercises, theory and science, all in audio files that you can listen to on your commute or at home. Boosting your libido is not as simple as taking a pill, even though some may like to sell this as a miracle cure. Studies show that actually, these pills are only slightly more effective than a placebo.

But finally, if you are happy with the amount of sex you are having, you should never have sex because you feel like you should. This can lead to resentment, and if you’re forcing yourself to have sex, most likely it isn’t going to be that fun or pleasureable.

What’s the difference between desire and arousal?

What’s the difference between desire and arousal?

“One is not born, but rather becomes, woman. No biological, psychic, or economic destiny defines the figure that the human female takes on in society; it is civilization as a whole that elaborates this intermediary product between the male and the eunuch that is called feminine.” – Simone DeBeauvoir, The Second Sex

Why is sex so god damn complicated? It seems, the more we learn about sex and sexuality, the clearer it is that our historical understanding of women’s anatomy and sexual desire has been woefully limited. Take a read of the first chapter of Simone DeBeauvoir’s prolific The Second Sex and you will discover how until the 20th Century (!!!) in the West, the vulva and vagina were described as anything from an inside-out penis to the real location of a woman’s brain. So, don’t blame yourself for not knowing exactly how your body works – it is only in the last few decades that it has even been socially acceptable in the West to study or learn about a woman’s sexuality. Up until then, it was considered either uninteresting, unimportant or strictly taboo.

One of the most common questions that we get asked at Emjoy is about sexual desire and arousal. What are they? Are they the same? Are they linked with libido? Which comes first?

There is no right way to have sex, feel aroused or experience your libido. We are all different. And like I said before, we are still learning about how the vulva and vagina actually work! What we do know is that there is a common misconception that arousal and desire are the same, when in fact, they are not.

Desire is emotional: it’s your libido. It is wanting, or not wanting, to have sex.

Arousal is the physical symptoms your body produces when you are turned on: heart rate increasing, lubrication between your legs, dilated pupils.

You can be unexpectedly aroused, and you can feel unexpectedly desirous; like going to a doctor’s appointment and suddenly finding yourself fantasising about them; or sitting on top of a washing machine and finding yourself more and more aroused from the vibrations…

Desire is as changeable as the seasons. We all know there’s a big difference between the honeymoon period in a new relationship and the part afterwards – it’s almost expected for us to stop having good and frequent sex. We are used to the idea that over time, our desire for our partner diminishes – as if we’ve run out of desire, like an old battery.

There are lots of different ways you can initiate both desire and arousal – separately or together. One of the main things that we work on with you in our app is building desire, from the ground up. You can head on over to the “Libido” section for a whole session on Desire vs. Arousal and techniques to incite them.

Sometimes, arousal can happen first and lead to desire. Maybe someone kisses your neck and you feel aroused – which then makes you want to have sex. Watching a steamy movie can also generate arousal in you, which can lead to desire; or looking at saucy pictures. It’s proven that looking at visual stimulation increases desire and arousal.

The good news is, you can have control and agency over your desire and your arousal. You can incite them. You can plan them. You don’t need to take pills that often are only slightly more effective than a placebo. It’s perfectly natural and normal to have fluctuations in your desire, and for your arousal to manifest in different ways. The key to taking control, of course, is to first understand them. So perk up your ears – it’s gonna be a wild ride.

Click here to be taken to the Emjoy App and get started on the “Libido” series, designed to help you understand and control your desire and incite arousal.

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