The Biggest Reason Why Couples Lose Sexual Desire
We’re all familiar with the honeymoon phase. You know, when couples simply can’t keep their hands off of each other, adorned with stars in their eyes? What a blissful and invigorating experience! It’s also true however that this phase doesn’t last forever.
After a few months, the passion slowly begins to wear off, and a sense of normalcy prevails. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In the post-honeymoon phase, couples begin to really get to know their partner on other levels, learning about who they truly are and how they may be a long-term suitable mate.
So while you may be worried about your level of sexual desire and the frequency of intimacy, it may be comforting to know that one of the most common complaints sex therapists deal with is low sexual desire in couples.
Research even shows that 80 percent of couples regularly experience situations where one partner desires intimacy while the other doesn’t. Why is that? Why do some partners tend to lose sexual desire the longer they’re together? And how can this issue be solved?
The Biggest Reason Why Couples Lose Sexual Desire
In the most simplest terms, the biggest reason why couples lose sexual desire is due to mismatched libidos. It’s true that everyone’s interest in sex can fluctuate, but in a relationship, one partner may desire sex more frequently while another may not be as interested (at all). Some are simply wired to having higher sex drives than others.
But if you and your partner are experiencing mismatched libidos, it could lead to further mental, emotional, and physical unrest, such as:
- One partner feeling rejected
- One partner feeling as they they are annoying their significant other
- One or both partners feeling frustrated
- One or both partners believing that there is something wrong with them
- One partner feeling pressured to have sex even if they don’t want to
- One or both partners feeling guilty for their high or low sex drive
- Frequent arguments or animosity
- Less romance in the relationship
- Less communication about sex in fear of what they might/might not hear
What Influences Sexual Desire?
There are so many factors that can influence our levels of sexual desire. We’re complex human beings, and our sexual desire can change in a matter of minutes, days, months or years.
Some of the most common factors that influence our sexual desire include:
- Medical conditions and medication: medical conditions such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, menopause, erectile dysfunction, vaginismus, vaginal dryness, and coronary artery disease can contribute to a lower sex drive. Medications such as antidepressants and birth control pills also play a role in our libido, as well as the use of alcohol and illegal drugs.
- Relationship conflict: if there is conflict within the relationship, whether it is sex-related or not, this could cause a low libido. Issues such as feeling emotionally distant, having a lack of communication, low levels of trust, and having unresolved conflict and frequent arguments can play a big role in one’s sex drive.
- Personal factors: individuals who experience stress, depression, anxiety, exhaustion, sadness, for whatever reason, too can experience lower levels of sexual desire. Additionally, those who feel self-conscious about their body and/or have a lack of confidence can experience a lower libido.
- Hormones: prior to menstruation, during breastfeeding, and just before and during menopause, there are lower levels of the sex hormones oestrogen and testosterone, for example. And as individuals get older, levels of testosterone begin to decline.
- Different attitudes about sex: one partner may have grown up in a household where sex was shameful and not discussed, they may have experienced a sexual trauma, or they may have certain desires or kinks that their partner finds off-putting or undesirable, creating a mismatch in libido.
How to Work Through Mismatched Libidos with Your Partner
No two people experience pleasure the same, and some couples feel sexual desire at different times. This is completely normal, and there are ways to work through mismatched libidos with your partner. The main prerequisites for this however, is to have an open mind, be able to communicate with your partner, and to be empathetic.
Ways to work through mismatched libidos can include:
- Adding a variety of activities to your bedroom routine: broaden your idea of sex by enjoying other seductive activities such as sensual massages, mutual masturbation, light touching, kissing, or even sexting to slowly heighten levels of arousal.
- Re-thinking monogamy: it’s not for everyone, and it’s not a decision to take lightly. But for some, having another sexual partner can not only reduce the chance of cheating, but also satisfy both primary partners who will be able to enjoy the amount of intimacy that feels right for them.
- Not waiting to be aroused, but creating arousal: sometimes one or both partners need a bit of help to gain arousal. Instead of waiting to feel sexual desire, why not make time for it. Set aside a time for sex, and use slow and seductive foreplay that may just enhance your libido.
- Communicating your needs and concerns: communication in a relationship is key, and when you can understand where your partner is coming from, it may be easier to empathise with them. Try not to judge, criticize, or make them feel guilty for their feelings—all feelings are valid. Talking about your needs and concerns could bring about a session of problem solving that may include meeting in the middle, or even seeking professional assistance.
When to Worry About a Loss of Sexual Desire: Sexual Desire Discrepancy
Sexual Desire Discrepancy (SDD) is when couples experience mismatched libidos or when they do not share the same desires, interests or kinks, but for a period of six months or more.
It’s not just when one partner shrugs off sex once in a while because they’re “not in the mood”, it’s an ongoing problem that can cause significant distress in a relationship. If you feel as though SDD is present in your relationship, seeking a professional, such as sex therapist, could be the best solution.
But for the majority of couples who experience a decline or loss of sexual desire, it’s simply a matter of exiting the honeymoon phase and getting comfortable with each other. There are ways to meet in the middle however, so being patient, understanding, and kind to each other will go a long way. Chances are, rekindling your sexual desire for each other is very possible and will be worth all of the hard work.
Helena (she/her) is a South African sex-positive writer who loves swimming in the ocean under the full moon, and cheesy 90's pop. She's currently living her best life in Porto, Portugal after scouring different continents to find her happy place. Today, she's dreaming with her eyes open, happily spreading her sexual wellness knowledge far and wide.