If you’re reading this post, it’s likely that you’ve already communicated with your partner in some way about a mismatch in desire.
How did you handle it?
Hopefully maturely, sensibly, and with lots of communication.
If you’re anything like me, however, it will have gone terribly- crying, silence, denial, anger, frustration, sadness.
It’s tough talking about something so intimate. So read on for some tips on how to take the heat out of the conversation and work on a solution together….
Why is it hard to talk?
It’s tough talking to a partner about an issue this deeply personal because the stakes are high when it comes to sex. Often these chats feel incredibly loaded because of strong emotions about the issue on both sides (shame, upset, worry, frustration, rejection, comparison, fear).
For the partner with the lower libido, it seems like you are the problem in the relationship. You might feel defensive or ashamed, frightened about losing your partner but unsure how to articulate what you need.
For the partner who wants more sex, they might worry about putting pressure on their partner or coercing them into doing something they don’t want to do, but feel unsure how to get their needs met, or their self-esteem is eroding because they believe they are the problem.
We might try to avoid talking about the issue, and then it can cause as many issues as it’s caused by, because of the breakdown in communication that can occur and the negative patterns that fall into place as a result.
Usually the explosion happens around the point of initiation, when the issues rise to the surface and the stakes get higher. Sometimes as a result resentment, anxiety, misunderstanding and loneliness builds, which in turn fuel more conflict and less sex.
The principles in talking to one another
Genuinely talking about the issue, openly and honestly, works wonders for decreasing that space between you and your partner.
Start with both of you understanding more about desire. Often a mismatch is noone’s fault, it just is. And it’s how you negotiate it together that sets your relationship apart. Conflict around low desire often becomes a cycle and contributes to even less desire, so ensuring there is no judgement, guilt or blame, and instead help, support and motivation to move forwards together and negotiate is key.
Furthering both of your understanding about what is causing a low sex drive is a game changer, so you can begin to discuss what’s turning you off, and what you can do together to start removing these desire blocks.
Finally, exploring together how this process has made you feel is essential. Learning more about where the other is coming from, and really hearing their experience and needs, is one step closer to firing up that sex drive.
1. Set the scene
It’s always a good plan to have those “serious chats” when you are doing something else to occupy your mind.
Not sat opposite each other intensely staring each other down.
Or in bed at the end of a long day (trust me, not a good plan!).
But maybe whilst going for a walk, driving (as long as it’s not going to be too distressing!) cooking dinner or washing up. That way there is no awkward eye contact, and you both feel more relaxed.
2. Break the silence
A really helpful way of starting the conversation (which has the added benefit of letting your partner know you’re trying to sort things out) is to ask their permission to tell them what you’ve found out about your sex drive.
*You could throw in how keen you are to make things good between you that you’ve put in the research- brownie points!*
Explain the issue and whatever is relevant to you about what is closing down your desire.
If you are struggling to know how to start, you could always ask them to read a blog post from this site to start the conversation! Or maybe send them some bits to read. In particular, understanding what’s closing down your desire and explaining this to them is a really useful way to start.
3. Reassure them
Many partners fear it’s them, and their looks, that you aren’t attracted to them anymore.
Reiterate over and over that it’s not them (if that’s true!) and tell them how much you care about them/are attracted to them and want to make things in the bedroom great between you two.
Let them know you are doing your best to try and understand yourself, what the issue is, and what you need and want, and you’d love for them to help you along the way
Encourage them to ask questions
Answer any questions as openly and honestly as you can.
Its ok for you to not know what you want or need, that might take time. Just let them know you’re working on it.
4. If, in the moment, you’re not in the mood- give yourself permission not to want it:
It’s OK that you don’t- you don’t owe anyone sex and we all have times or periods where we don’t want to. That’s fine. Having sex to keep the peace can be really damaging to your sexual self-esteem and autonomy.
As we already mentioned, it’s not the issue that you’re not in the mood for sex. Usually it’s around how that moment is handled. Read more about this and how to turn the initiation “danger zone” into a place of opportunity for more connection.
5. Keep on talking
Silence breeds resentment, frustration and isn’t healthy for anyone. So, keep on talking… little and often. The more you talk, the better you’ll begin to understand each other and help each other through this.
It’s ok to not have all of the answers (I definitely don’t!) but it’s about being on that journey together and constantly checking in. It’ll come in handy later for when you need your partners help and understanding if you want to practise any of my tips and tricks.
Hang on in there and be brave- those conversations will feel (slightly) easier the more you have them.