Within a relationship, sometimes it is hard to agree on the frequency of sex. Some people want to have more sex while others want less. Deciding on the frequency of sex is an important issue and often causes disagreement in relationships. Well… Before labeling the other as “abnormal”, you might want to read what research has to say about this subject.

Sexual desire refers to an individual’s desire to engage in sexual activity and could fluctuate throughout one’s life, since it is influenced by a number of different factors. These factors include but are not limited to stress, relationship issues, age, lifestyle, and hormonal influences. These fluctuations often occur at the individual level but might result in creating undesired consequences for the relationships. The mismatch of sexual desire levels between partners is called sexual desire discrepancy. Research in this area has found consistent links between greater desire discrepancy and lower sexual/relationship satisfaction. 

In their research, Vowels & Mark (2020) have found different strategies on how to deal with sexual desire discrepancy and specific strategies involving all parties within the relationship have been found to be the most effective compared to solitary strategies. So here are three partnered strategies that you might want to consider:

  1. Communicating about the difference: Talking about what each party wants when it comes to sexuality is a good way to start the conversation. Basically, talking with your partner to find out why the level of desire is different within a relationship might be a good way to go. Mostly, finding a common ground and respecting other’s wishes are good strategies for moving forward.
  1. Engagement in another activity together: Without the pressure of intercourse, some people tend to feel more relaxed. So, engaging in an activity that doesn’t involve sex or an activity that might trigger desire and does not lead to intercourse might work for you and your partner. Going for a spontaneous date night, watching an interesting movie, or some other co-preferred activity could increase enjoyment and help to strengthen the relationship.
  1. Scheduling Sex: Sometimes we all tend to get lost in our busy lifestyle and this situation affects all sorts of aspects of our lives including sexual desire. When life gets chaotic, we tend to push intimacy to the backburner. Thus, putting sex on the calendar and figuring out a common time frame that works for both of you might help to spice things up and increase your sexual satisfaction.

Every relationship has its own strategies when it comes to dealing with problems and this includes problems with sexuality as well, but when the strategies are not working and the problem seems to continue or even escalate, seeking professional help might be a good option. Sexual function is one of the key components of health and well-being. Sexual difficulties including sexual desire discrepancies are common and can negatively impact one’s life. That’s why it is important to keep in mind that there are professionals out there who can help you when needed.

Seray Soyman is a Psychology graduate from Turkey. Currently, she is working as an intern at Willingness and doing her master’s on Clinical Psychosexology at Sapienza University, Rome. Seray’s research interests are sex-positive behavior, sexual habits, LGBTQIA+ studies, and reproductive health.

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Mark, K. P. (2015). Sexual desire discrepancy. Current Sexual Health Reports, 7(3), 198-202.

Vowels, L. M. & Mark, K. P. (2020). Strategies for mitigating sexual desire discrepancy in relationships. Archives of sexual behavior, 49(3), 1017-1028.