Relationships and desire

Dr Lori Brotto believes a woman’s feelings about her partner contribute more than anything else toward her levels of desire. 

She writes that the major predictors of sexual desire for women in a relationship are impacted by:

    • how she feels about her partner
    • how much she likes or admires her partner
    • and what she believes about the fate of her relationship

However, relationships can be one of the trickiest areas to deal with when it comes to a low libido, because its often hard to admit to ourselves where the issues lie.

Your relationship is also one of the biggest categories to explore in terms of impact on desire because there are so many factors!

It can feel easier to consider other issues that impact on our desire first, because analysing our relationship brings with it worries about the future of our partnership.

It often seems simpler to change ourselves rather than change our relationship, because it involves talking to the other person (eek!) and making ourselves vulnerable.

We might also feel like the only thing we do have control over is ourselves, and trying to understand another feels easier than inviting them to understand us too. 

Exploring the issues within your relationship might also mean some hard truths, some difficult conversations, even tough decisions. 

But it could mean a positive shift in the way you relate to one another, bringing change not only to your bedroom activities but the whole relationship. Which can only be a positive!

Issues within a relationship- what might they feel like?

  • Lots of conflict
  • Unspoken emotion
  • Imbalance in power
  • Sadness, anger, resentment

Factors that could be decreasing your desire for sex:

So, there are four main factors at play in relationships which can negatively impact on desire:

  • Too little intimacy: For many women, their desire doesn’t exist within a vacuum and (who’d have thought it?) often how they feel about their partner governs how much they might like to have sex with them. If our relationship is lacking intimacy, it could feel like we’re starved of warmth, friendship, kindness, compromise or physical affection. Perhaps there are issues with communication, or unresolved conflict bubbling away in the background. We might even feel a sense of resentment towards our SO- which is a surefire way to deflate desire. If things are feeling a little frosty, it’s no wonder we’re not feeling like getting hot under the collar with our partner.

  • Too much intimacy: We’re often told that intimacy, friendship and love are the holy trinity of a healthy relationship. But that may not be the same for a healthy sex life. A number of sex therapists have more recently critique the idea of creating more safety, familiarity and closeness to increase desire. Instead, they argue that these factors “suffocate the sizzle”- that desire instead thrives on mystery, intrigue, risk. Too much familiarity can mean we’re unable to let go and be wild in bed with our partners. Or maybe we’re frightened of intimacy- of letting go, surrendering, losing control and making ourselves vulnerable.

  • Loss of attraction: This one probably isn’t rocket science.  For many of us, sex requires attraction, and without this element we might be robbed of our desire.

  • Believing in harmful sex and relationship myths: There are TONS of myths out there about how our relationships and sex should be, and as a society we have some quite unhealthy ideas about what happens when we’ve been together with someone long-term. For example- thinking that sex “just happens” and should be spontaneous, fun every time, and that foreplay comes before sex.

DIY Relationship Repair

Finding balance within your relationship is key to increasing desire. 
Click here to be taken to my tips and tricks on repairing your relationship.
Your relationship is often inseparable from sex. You can find out more here about how your sex life can cause low desire as well as be impacted by it, and how to stop the cycle.


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