Today’s article is one that I’ve been thinking for a really long time now. When you see how open and personal it is, I think you’ll understand why it’s taken me so long to share it.
I talk about this with many couples in therapy when one partner has a higher sex drive than the other. Mis-matched libidos are the most common sexual challenge that couples face, so I thought it would be helpful to share.
I’m passionate about it, both because I’m a huge advocate for soulful intimacy in the bedroom and because it’s something that is a beautiful part of my own relationship.
So here we go…
One partner being ‘in the mood’ when the other isn’t is something that many couples can relate to. I certainly can in my own relationship.
It happened for us recently.
I can’t remember what was going on for me this day.
Perhaps I was tired, or feeling overwhelmed or just feeling a sense of disconnection in our relationship due to my partner being away so often at the moment.
Sex was the last thing on my mind.
But it was a different story for my partner.
It’s always challenging when my partner and I have conflicting needs. I wanted to be there for him, but I didn’t want to be intimate when my heart wasn’t really in it.
I sometimes feel that because I help other people with sexuality and intimacy (or maybe just because I’m his partner) I should be able to meet his sexual desires all the time.
At the same time, I firmly believe we should never have sex with anyone unless we fully want to. There’s something to be said for ‘getting started’ when you don’t really feel like it and seeing where things lead, but ‘guilt and pressure sex’ don’t lead to long-term intimate satisfaction.
That day, my body was not coming to the party.
I know that for many couples who find themselves in a similar situation, things don’t go well from there.
Perhaps the person who doesn’t feel like sex turns over and goes to sleep (or pretends to) while feeling guilty about not satisfying their partner or feeling resentment at not having their own needs met.
The other may be left feeling frustrated, likely rejected and longing for intimacy.
But there is something else we can do, and to me, it’s one of the most beautiful, intimate and sexy things we can do in bed.
I wasn’t in the mood for sex, but I still wanted to be there for my partner.
I still wanted to feel close and connected to him.
I wanted him to know that I love him.
And knowing what I do about the masculine flow of sexual energy and sex being a way to share love, I wanted him to know his arousal wasn’t something to be ashamed of or shut down, it’s something I wanted to honour.
As often happens when we find ourselves in a situation like this, I told him that I really wanted to be close to him but I just didn’t feel I could be sexual right now. What I wanted was to hug and kiss him and just feel held by him.
I then suggested, as I sometimes do, that he pleasure himself while we hug, with no expectation for me to be involved.
With his understanding and gentleness, he told me of course it’s fine, and that what he most wants is to feel connected to me.
I actually cried with relief. I felt my heart crack open – in the best way.
I could just be with him, love him, kiss him, hold him with no pressure to please him or be sexual with him.
And he could hold me, be connected to me, love me and have an outlet for his sexual energy at the same time.
Sharing this way is incredibly intimate and vulnerable.
I get to give my love to him without the pressure of having to do anything I don’t want to. He feels connected, and not rejected.
Sometimes when we begin like this, things ‘develop further’. But often, this is all that happens. And it’s beautiful, loving and intimate.
We both feel satisfied, loved and connected.
Many couples I suggest this to in therapy have never thought of this as an option before. Often self-pleasure is seen as shameful or something that should be practiced only privately. This new possibility has opened deep intimacy and loving connection between them.
My hope is that you find this a surprisingly beautiful, intimate and sexy outcome of different sexual desires too.
It’s a intimate and often challenging topic, but I would love to hear your thoughts.
How do you honour each other when your desires don’t align?
Is this something you do together, or might do?