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Sexual Desire Discrepancy: When Your Libidos Don’t Match

Intimacy is a complex dance of emotions, desires, and needs. It’s a symphony where sometimes the instruments don’t play in harmony. When partners are out of sync in their sexual desires, it can create a discord that affects not just the bedroom, but the entire relationship. Let’s delve deeper into this challenge many couples face.

Understanding Sexual Desire Discrepancy

What is Sexual Desire Discrepancy?

Sexual Desire Discrepancy (SDD) refers to the gap that can emerge between partners in their level of sexual interest. One partner might frequently desire intimate moments, while the other may not feel the same way.

Common Causes

Sexual desire is influenced by a plethora of factors:

  1. Biological Factors: Aging, hormonal imbalances, and medical conditions can influence libido. Medications, such as certain antidepressants, can also decrease sexual desire.
  2. Psychological Triggers: Mental health challenges like depression, anxiety, or unresolved traumas can severely dampen one’s libido.
  3. Relationship Dynamics: Resentments, past betrayals, or other unresolved issues can inhibit desire.

The Impact on Relationships

Emotional Strain

It’s not uncommon for the partner with the higher libido to feel rejected or unloved. They may question their attractiveness or appeal. Conversely, the partner with lower libido might feel guilt, pressure, or anxiety surrounding intimacy.

Trust Issues

When desires don’t align, suspicions might arise. The high-desire partner might wonder if their partner is fulfilling their needs outside the relationship. On the other hand, the low-desire partner may feel their boundaries are not respected.

Self-Esteem Challenges

Persistent feelings of rejection can erode one’s self-worth. The constant denial or reluctance can lead one to question their desirability or worth in the relationship.

Finding Common Ground

Communicating Openly

Understanding begins with conversation. Instead of making assumptions or accusations, partners should express their feelings, needs, and apprehensions. Consider setting aside dedicated “check-in” times to discuss intimacy without distractions.

Seeking Professional Help

A sex therapist or relationship counselor can provide an objective perspective. They offer tools and exercises to help couples reconnect and understand each other’s needs.

Exploring New Avenues

Rekindling desire might involve exploring new territories in the bedroom, trying out couple’s activities, or even just ensuring more quality time together.

Tips for Navigating Discrepancy

Establishing Intimacy Beyond Sex

Closeness extends beyond the confines of the bedroom. Engaging in non-sexual touch, sharing daily experiences, or undertaking joint hobbies can enhance intimacy.

Scheduled Intimacy Time

Having a dedicated “us” time, even if it sounds robotic, can help in synchronizing desires. It’s not about forcing intimacy but ensuring both partners are mentally prepared and present.

Compromise is Key

Being Receptive

Being open to your partner’s feelings and needs is essential. It’s about mutual respect and understanding.

Expressing Needs

Clear communication minimizes misunderstandings. Express your desires, boundaries, and apprehensions without fear of judgment.


Sexual Desire Discrepancy is a reality many couples grapple with. However, with understanding, open dialogue, and compromise, it’s a challenge that can be navigated, leading to a deeper, more fulfilling relationship.


Is it natural for desires to change over time?

Yes, numerous factors like age, health, and life circumstances can influence desires.

Can lifestyle changes impact libido?

Absolutely. Stress, diet, exercise, and sleep can all influence sexual desire.

Is therapy always the answer?

While therapy can be beneficial, it’s not the sole solution. Open communication and mutual understanding are equally important.

How can partners support each other?

By being empathetic, understanding, and proactive in seeking solutions together.

Is it possible to have a happy relationship with mismatched libidos?

Yes, with mutual respect, understanding, and effort, many couples thrive despite this challenge.

Angelica Jackson a therapist at Denver Couples and Sex Therapy

I’m Angelica Jackson, From Denver Couples & Sex Therapy PLLC. I graduated with a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and I am a Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate also involved at the local and national level of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists. I have dedicated myself to building a practice committed to providing extraordinary, expert client care.