What To Do If Your Partner Has A Lower Sex Drive Than You, According To A Therapist

Not bumping and grinding as much as you'd like?

Brooke Houghton. Right: Unmade bed.

Brooke Houghton. Right: Unmade bed.

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"Dear Brooke, My boyfriend and I have been in a relationship for 10 months. We had a lot of sex the first 5 months, and then we both had COVID. He is very protective and sweet and said let's not do it until we are completely okay (even after quarantine). And since then, we have had sex only like 3 or 4 times in the last 6 months. I mean, we went from doing it every day initially to this. I confronted him about it, and he said it's just in my head and that everything is normal. I know he is not cheating because we are together almost every hour of the day except for when he is at work. Even then, we talk on the phone and text. And it's him that wants to see me every single day. He gets restless if I am busy with family or friends. He also is not seeing his friends that often. Very rarely.

FYI — He lives with 5 other guys, so I don't go over to his place, and I live with my brother and sister, so he doesn't come over to my place that often. We are mostly in the car.

But even if we get a chance to be alone at home for some time, I don't feel him being that romantic with me. We hug a lot, we kiss but no sex or any other very intimate stuff. I don't know what that is, but it bothers me. We love each other a lot."

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When it comes to sex, chemistry and timing are your best friends.

If satisfying sex was as easy to come by as an ice cream cone in August, we'd all be licking away — lactose caution be damned.

But, finding a partner with the same sex drive as you, 24/7, can be a real b*tch, especially when you throw roommates, family members, and illness into the mix.

As a lover of love, I'm thrilled you're in it, but sad to see that you're coming out of the honeymoon stage with less bumping and grinding than you'd like.

Although, according to sex, marriage and family therapist Jenifer Smith, who graciously agreed to be my expert co-counsel on this question, you're technically still in the honeymoon stage.

I personally believe the wild "blow your back out" sex portion of a new relationship only lasts four to six months before slowing down to a less frequent rhythm.

But, that honeymoon stage is different for everyone, according to Smith, and you may find insight into your partner's long-term sex drive through their past.

"A lot of times in new relationships, I find that people don't talk enough about their sexual history," says Smith. "Maybe he does like to have it all hot and heavy at the beginning of the relationship, and then it eventually dies off."

However, good sex can only come when everyone is excited and eager to visit the ice cream truck. So, you can't force your partner into wanting more sex and, more importantly, you don't want to.

"You have to respect the person's choice if they do not want to have sex at this point. And they may still be really feeling some of the symptoms. COVID's still so new we don't really know what the long-term effects are going to be," says Smith.

In my opinion, you've done the right thing by bringing up the conversation, but it doesn't seem like it is a lack of love or affection on his part — it may just be a lack of desire or one hundred other things.

Smith explained that he might just have a low sex drive at the moment.

"That could have happened because of COVID. Could be happening because of mental or emotional reasons. But I think this partner has to find other ways to actually connect with intimacy with their partner."

Cheap advice

I'd bring the topic up again when the two of you have an opportunity to be alone. Preferably over a bottle of wine in a comfortable environment, and express your needs without assigning blame.

Remember, it's not an issue that they don't want as much sex; it's an issue that it's bothering you.

All people have different needs when it comes to pleasure. The water that fills your sexual cup may not put a dent in another person's tumbler, and that's okay!

As per Smith's advice, I'd start with a conversation and try and find a compromise.

"I think they have to have a conversation of what's the happy medium. If he doesn't feel like he wants to have sex every day like they used to and she's not really happy with the infrequency, they need to figure out what's the happy medium," says Smith.

"But you don't want your partner to be forcing themselves to have it if they really don't want to. That's not the ideal for anyone."

In the meantime, try and figure out if it's intimacy or orgasms you're after.

If it's intimacy, there's plenty you can enjoy without getting jiggy.

"Just laying together naked, taking a shower together, or giving each other massages. [...] Just spending time cuddling. That could be another form of intimacy that doesn't involve sex that still allows that closeness," says Smith.

If it's orgasms, I suggest you invest in a quiet and discreet vibrator — given your living situation — and go to town.

Or even go the voyeur route, per Smith's suggestion, and have your partner watch you use a new toy. Alternatively, you can book a getaway for the two of you to reconnect.

In the end, finding love is beautiful.

It's a delicate thing that needs to be nurtured, so tend to your relationship garden, and if the flowers aren't blooming – there's always another garden bed in need of a good hoe.

But, make sure you're not throwing a good garden away just because of a dry spell without putting in the elbow grease first.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Cheaper Than Therapy is a spicy new column and video series hosted by Brooke Houghton where readers can share their own anonymous questions and get expert advice for free. Brooke speaks from her own experiences as a single 20-something woman in Toronto and brings on expert guests from therapists to celebrities to help solve your relationship, sex and love issues. So if you can’t afford therapy from an actual professional, ask her a question here and tune in next month for another episode of Cheaper Than Therapy.

Brooke Houghton
Brooke Houghton is a contributing writer for Narcity Media based in Toronto, Ontario.