What to Do If Your Partner Has a Low Sex Drive

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Every couple is going to go through a time of mismatched libidos. Here's how to get back in sync and bring back great sex for the both of you.

1. Life changes and libido

“In the average relationship, a lot of life happens,” says Elizabeth McGrath, a Somatic sex therapist in the San Francisco bay area. Any major change, whether positive or negative, can alter a person’s sex drive. This includes job changes, waning friendships or family relationships, or anything that can cause stress or added responsibilities. Having a child can be especially impactful. Not only does it affect time, money, family dynamics, and stress, it changes a person’s relationship with their partner and how they see themselves. Often, when women become mothers, they can lose a sexual element to their sense of self.

2. Sex as nourishment

Sex can be nourishing, but it can also feel like a chore if a person isn’t nourished in other ways too. Making sure your partner has time to do things that are restorative, whether that’s eating, having alone time, or talking about your days. With time to clear your minds and engage in the present, you can both be in the mood to reap the benefits of sex as well.

3. Orgasm alternatives

This may seem contradictory, but when a man focuses all his sexual desires on satisfying his partner, that can make sex less appealing to her. “The woman [may not] really care about getting off right now. That still feels like more work,” says McGrath. “That still feels like I have to ‘get it up’ for that experience to do a good job and get off for you and provide for what you want.” If she is happier with sex that involves more cuddling and less thrusting, that should be taken into consideration.

4. Incompatible sex drives

Sometimes a difference in libido is more than just a phase. People’s sex drive can be as much a part of their personality as their taste in food or clothes. Relationships between people with different libidos can be very tricky, says McGrath. “In relationship mismatches, it comes down to work and compromise, which, unfortunately, people don’t find very sexy,” she says. The best way to make these negotiations positive is by recognizing what each partner is doing for the other and realizing the work may be challenging, but the payoff should be great. There may also be couples who decide compromise or what comes from it just isn’t for them, says McGrath. Low libido may be a relationship-ender in these cases and that’s okay, too.