Ask Niki: How Do We Make It Work When Our Libidos Don’t Match Up?

Niki Davis


Hi, I’m Niki Davis a consent and sexuality educator and Bushwick Daily’s Bedroom Coach. Every other humpday, I’ll answer your sex and relationship questions. Submit your anonymous questions to [email protected] or slide them into my DM @nikidavisf.


 I’m in a relationship that has a 20 year age difference. How do you keep the sex drive going when one partner’s drive is increasing as the other’s is decreasing?

Niki Says:

Dealing with different libido’s is difficult, particularly in situations where the sex drive divide between partners is likely to continue to grow over time and is not related to an identifiable cause within the relationship.

I experienced a differential libidinal situation with one of my exes. He had a very high sex drive until he went on antidepressants and then his sex drive became virtually non-existent.

After a lot of introspection on my part, I realized that it was annoying to not get fucked when I was in the mood, but more importantly not feeling wanted by my partner had a detrimental impact on my self-esteem.  A huge part of my identity as a woman involved being desired, and I took it really hard that my chosen person wasn’t digging what I was putting down (even though I understood that a lot of this was the effect of the drugs).  Of course, sex is awesome, but I know from experience what can seem as simple an issue of someone being horny and someone else not being horny can easily become an intense and emotional identity–driven conflict.

I think that our broader social climate is important to keep in mind when discussing this issue – it is based on our heteronormative cultural understanding of what it means to be a man (always wanting to fuck), a woman (always wanting to be wanted) and what it means to be a “successful couple” (lots of fucking). I think one way to assuage some of these ingrained cultural assumptions is to think about and acknowledge how they may impact the way we feel about a given encounter/relationship.

As well, the more excited partner needs to be thoughtful about when to approach their partner for sexytime because what’s the least sexy thing? Feeling pressured to have sex! Beyond feeling inadequate, broken or whatever, it’s not a turn-on when the unfair power dynamic has been set such that one partner always wants a thing from the other partner.  There is something inherently sexy about the back and forth dance of seduction where one person initiates, the second person escalates and it goes from there. The person with the higher libido needs to make sure that they are not constantly pressuring the other person to have sex so that each time they have sex it is fully consensual and enjoyable for both parties.   

What are some specific techniques to deal with the differential libido sitch?

 A rule can be made that for a certain amount of time ONLY the lower libido partner can initiate sex.  This can help alleviate the pressure felt by the lower libido partner, although the potential problem here is that perhaps they just won’t initiate and then there will be no banging.

 Both partners are also going to have to find ways to be intimate and connected that don’t involve sex.  For me, an episode of Star Trek and cuddle will often do the trick. For you, experiment: think about the times you have felt most connected to your partner and ensure that those types of activities are built into your routine.

 For a lot of people, being watched can be super arousing.  So, say your partner doesn’t feel like engaging in intercourse. That’s not to say they wouldn’t enjoy (or at least not mind) watching you get the job done – and perhaps kissing you, caressing you or even lending a hand (or a tongue!?). Just because the higher libido partner wants to have an orgasm doesn’t mean that the lower libido partner also has to. If anything, not cumming may be better for the lower libido partner as keeping them thirsty might increase their chances of feeling sexual in the near future.  Also, perhaps if the lower libido partner masturbates less this could have them “save” as much sexual energy as possible for their partner.

 I have also learned that you don’t need a partner to have exciting, novel, and intense sexual experiences. I suggest that the partner with the higher sex drive take the time to really get to know their body and have fun pleasuring themselves in new and exciting ways. All the things one may fantasize about doing with their partner, be it public sex, anal etc., – can be done solo.  This can help shift one’s perception of sexuality from something they get from and give to a partner, to something that is part of themselves and can be expressed in many ways.

For those that have dealt with issues of different libidos – please write in and tell me what worked for you!

Hit me up at [email protected]m or @nikidavisf with your sex and relationship questions and I’ll catch you in a couple weeks – keep it spicy out there Bushwick!

@nikidavisf is a full time consent educator  and does private sex and relationship coaching sessions. The focus of her Masters was positive sexuality and she has lectured at NYU, The United Nations and many other venues on the subjects of sexual communication, sexual assault intervention and support, and human sexuality.

Image via Creative Commons 

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