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.