Dec 2 / Dr. Kevin Skinner

Finding Balance: Strategies for Managing Sexual Desire Discrepancies in Relationships

Sexual Desire Discrepancies (SDD)

Sexual desire is a vital component of a healthy relationship; however, it can cause significant problems when partners have different levels of desire. While it is natural to have fluctuating sexual desires in a long-term relationship, it can create significant power struggles when the discrepancies go beyond minor variations. Sexual desire discrepancies can cause tension, resentment, and frustration, which may ultimately lead to emotional distance or break-up.

So how can you navigate the complexities of sexual desire discrepancies and foster a healthy and fulfilling relationship? This article explores seven useful strategies to help partners find balance and manage their sexual differences through honest communication, compromise, and creative problem-solving.

7 Strategies to Help You Find the Balance When Experiencing Sexual Desire Discrepancies

1. Acknowledge the difference, but don't blame anyone:

Sexual desire discrepancies are not uncommon in relationships; therefore, it's essential to acknowledge this difference without blaming your partner or yourself. Blaming either party may cause resentment and may make it more challenging to find viable solutions. Instead, both parties should approach the issue openly and without judgment. Acknowledge that both you and your partner may have different sexual desires and needs, and it's reasonable to seek ways to bridge the gaps and bring yourself closer together.

 Communicate honestly about your desires:

In my professional experience, couples have a difficult time opening up and communicating about their sexual desires. However, communication is crucial in every relationship, especially when navigating sexual desire discrepancies. Open and honest communication allows partners to share their feelings, needs, and expectations concerning sex and intimacy.

Through communication, partners can also clear any misconceptions and fantasies that may have been inhibiting their sexual connection. Start the conversation by discussing what you each find pleasurable and erotic, acknowledging those preferences, and finding ways to incorporate them into your sex life.

Here’s a question for you to consider.

On a scale between zero (not comfortable) and ten (very comfortable), how comfortable are you discussing your sexual desires with your partner? If your scores are on the lower end, say three or below, I suggest you pause and evaluate your fears. If you can’t honestly discuss your desires, you should consider seeking help to guide you through difficult conversations. I have observed that many couples wait too long before they seek help regarding their sexual desire discrepancies.

Additional Strategies to Deal With SDD

3. Compromise and find common ground:

Compromise is essential when managing sexual desire discrepancies, particularly in long-term relationships. In most cases, one partner will have a higher or lower level of desire than the other. To find balance, it is crucial to identify areas of common ground and compromise until both partners feel satisfied. This may involve exploring new and innovative ways to connect sexually, such as varying the time of day, the location, or exploring different forms of sexual expression such as sensual massages or cuddling.

4. Focus on non-sexual intimacy:

While sexual attraction and desire are vital to a healthy relationship, there are other forms of intimacy that can bring partners closer together. In my work, I have learned to focus on seven types of intimacy with couples. If you would like to learn more about the seven types you can take a free test by clicking on this link: Relationship Intimacy Test

Partners can connect through non-sexual activities such as taking a walk together, enjoying a movie, or engaging in hobbies. Focus on the intimacy and closeness that comes from doing things together, expressing love and appreciation for each other, and allowing the sexual connection to grow and develop naturally.

Three strategies to improve non-sexual intimacy
  • Give each other a long embrace  (10-15 seconds)
  • Give each other a foot or hand massage
  • Have a meaningful conversation

Additional Strategies to Deal with SDD

5. Take care of yourself

It’s important to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Taking steps to improve your physical health, such as exercise, healthy eating, and getting enough sleep, can give you more energy and help improve your sexual desire. Similarly, taking care of your emotional well-being, such as seeking therapy or practicing mindfulness, can help reduce stress and anxiety, which can also improve your sexual desire.

6. Experiment and try new things

Trying new things in the bedroom can help both partners feel more engaged and interested in sexual activity. Experimenting with different positions, incorporating different types of touch, or trying new toys can all help spice up your sex life and increase desire.

Remember that desire ebbs and flows

It’s important to remember that sexual desire is not always constant. There will be times when one or both partners feel less interested in sex. This is completely normal and doesn’t necessarily mean there is a problem with the relationship. Being patient and understanding during these times can help both partners feel more comfortable discussing their needs and desires.

Test Your Relationship

If you want to learn additional strategies on how to communicate about sexual desire discrepancies in your relationship consider taking the assessment Test Your Relationship