Wake Up or
Break Up

When You Have a Higher Sex Drive Than Your Partner

For some strange reason, almost every relationship has moments when one partner has a much higher sex drive than the other partner. Is it because God has a sense of humor? Or because one of you takes only a few seconds to warm up while the other partner needs several hours of everything going perfectly before the kindling starts to catch fire? Or because one of you has been thinking about sex all day while the other person thinks about sex almost never?

As a couples counselor, I've been fascinated for over 23 years watching well-dressed and strongly-in-love couples enter my office and tell me how much they argue or build up resentments because one partner is hot to trot far more often than the other partner. In most cases, the high-sex-drive partner tries a few methods that truly don't work. See if any of these sound like you or someone you know:

Whining: For centuries most men and some women have resorted to whining and complaining in the hopes that it might cause the other partner to warm up and want to roll around naked in bed. Some high-sex-drive partners whine by saying things like "But you promised" or "It's been so long" or "You never seem to be in the mood" or "This is our only chance now that the kids are finally asleep" Or they whine by sulking, complaining, or getting angry when the partner says "Not tonight. I'm much too tired" As one of my therapy clients once told me, "If only whining were a major turn-on, I'd be getting a lot more sex than I do lately."

Citing Math Statistics: Other high-sex-drive individuals think that pulling out facts and numbers will turn on their partner. They say things like, "For crying out loud, it's been six days!" or "It's been two and a half weeks!" Or they say emphatically, "The average couple has sex 2.5 times a week" (a made-up figure that has been used by millions of high-sex-drive individuals but has never once caused a lower-sex-drive person to get naked or feel sensual). Based on what I've discovered from counseling thousands of couples, I have yet to see a lower-sex-drive partner look into the eyes of the person citing these math facts and say, "Oh, yes! Oh, yes! I get so turned on when you give me numbers like that. Don't stop, lover! Don't stop!"

Warning of Medical Disasters: Finally, there is the ultimate ploy that most men learned in high school or college and that rarely if ever works. He says to his partner, "I'm going to get blue balls if we don't do it." Or as my college friend used to call it, "I'm likely to get D.S.B., Dangerous Semen Backup." Maybe one out of fifty partners will be gullible enough to believe that there is such a thing as Blue Balls or Dangerous Semen Backup. But forty nine out of fifty will know that there is a 100% likelihood that the high-sex-drive person will take matters into his own hands and the threat of Blue Balls is pure bluff.

Exactly What Does Work? Now that we've covered the whining, number-crunching, and medical horror stories that don't work, what in fact does work to help bring couples closer when one has a high sex drive and the other doesn't? Here are a few options that I've seen work wonderfully and that are described in detail in my new book. To save or improve your sex life, you might want to experiment with one or more of these:

The No-Pressure Guarantee: Many lower-sex-drive partners have a wall up because they have experienced so much pressure, whining, anger and verbal abuse from their higher-sex-drive partner, or from various other demanding people over the years. This is especially true for good-looking women, who have been pressured and pushed to have sex ever since she first developed a figure at age 12 or 13 or 14. So the best place to begin to repair the damage and start anew with your partner is to sit down and promise the pressuring is over (and to really mean it, dude). You can write a note, send a card, have a face-to-face conversation, or even get down on your knees and say, "I'm sorry I've been a bit intense about this. I realize now that pressuring you is not the way you deserve to be treated. From now on, I promise there will no more pressuring about sex because unless both of us are in the mood it's not good for our relationship if one of us pressures the other."

The Enjoyable rainstorming Walk in Nature: Many couples also achieve a breakthrough in their sex lives when they set aside an hour every few weeks or months and take a relaxing walk in nature (along the water, in a beautiful park, on an attractive tree-lined street, or in some other favorite spot). When the two of you are feeling relaxed and open, start the brainstorming conversation by saying, "I would love to learn more about what makes you feel cared for and appreciated, versus what makes you feel over-stressed or taken for granted. For just a few minutes, would you be willing to teach me what are the things I could do that would make you feel loved and supported and good about our partnership. I can't promise that I'll do a perfect job at everything on the list, but I do want to learn what makes you feel loved." In nine out of ten cases, this type of non-defensive brainstorming conversation opens up the possibility of renewed trust and intimacy. When you listen to your partner describe exactly what warms this unique individual up, you will have some important clues about what will bring back the closeness and passion that has been drained from your relationship.

The "Teach Me Your Subtle Clues and What HelpsYou get in the Mood" Conversation: In addition, there is one more brainstorming conversation that can cause breakthroughs even when there has been a sexual-shut-down for weeks, months, or years between the two of you. At a meal or a walk or a relaxing time when you are together, ask your partner, "I would love to learn what are the subtle clues that you are in the mood or not in the mood for being intimate, and what are the steps that allow you to slowly get in the mood for making love. For instance, what are the clues that maybe you have been giving out every so often and that I didn't pick up on that you were a little bit in the mood and you would like me to gently make a pass and see if it develops into something more? Or what are the clues that you are truly not in the mood and you don't want to have any pressure put on you? Or what are the clues that you are a little bit tired or not quite in the mood, but if you got some support from me and if you let me do most of the energetic fire-building at first you mightslowly feel ready to make love?"; If you are a good, non-defensive listener as you let your partner talk about what causes sensuality or lack of sensuality between the two of you, you will learn extremely valuable clues about how to warm up your partner and when to back off.

The "Show Me How You like to be Kissed and Touched" Conversation: Rather than having a fight during or after a failed love-making session, it's much more effective to ask your partner at the beginning of a love-making session for a short tutorial. Simply ask, "I know that we&'ve been together for a while and sometimes I think I know how you like to be kissed or touched, but maybe there is a way you like to be kissed or touched that you haven't quite told me yet. For just a few minutes would you be willing to teach me what you enjoy and what you don't enjoy when we're kissing and when we're warming each other up." This short tutorial not only allows your partner to be the respected teacher rather than the pressured or pursued object of your desire. It also will give you extremely valuable information about what feels good and what doesn't feel good to this unique and fascinating individual, whose sensuality is slowly being revealed to you as the relationship develops.

The Slow Down and Breathe Techniques: Finally, there is something extremely important about the speed and attitude with which you warm up your partner that can revive or ruin your sex life. If you are rushed, grabby, or too focused on orgasm when you begin to kiss or warm up your partner, there is very little chance that your less-sexually-driven partner will feel safe or sensual. On the other hand, if you remember to slow down, breathe deeply in and out, and let your partner know that you care as much about the gradual intimate moments of connection as you do about the orgasmic release, you will be amazed at how much better your lovemaking becomes. Quite often a partner who has felt pressured, rushed, and judged in the sexual arena will open up to a new sense of freedom and teamwork once you successfully slow down and stop being so demanding or goal-oriented during lovemaking.

But Is It Fair?

For most couples where one partner has a higher sex drive than the other partner, the complicated feelings and slower steps of the less-sexual partner need to be taken very seriously in order to revive the intimacy in the relationship. But if you are the higher-sex-drive partner, you might be feeling or thinking, "This isn't fair. Why does the lower-sex-drive partner get to have more than 50% of the control over when and how we do it?" While that's a legitimate question, the truth is we're not talking about fairness here, dude, we're talking about what will get the kindling started on those cold and lonely nights where there hasn't been much heat lately. Letting the less-sexual partner call the shots somewhat will help this person open up and bring down the frustrating wall that has been blocking any chance of intimacy for a very long time. Good luck!

©2008, Leonard Felder

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Leonard Felder is a licensed psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles. As a popular lecturer and recognized expert on how to improve personal relationships, his books have sold more than 1 million copies. His latest book is Wake Up or Break Up: The 8 Crucial Steps to Strengthening Your Relationship He has appeared on more than 200 teleivsion and radio programs, including Oprah, The Today Show, The Early Show, CNN, AM Canada, NPR, and ABC Talkradio. He and his wife, Linda, have been together since 1980, and they hare the parents of a 12-year-old son, Steven. E-Mail or www.wakeuporbreakup.com

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