Welcome to Elle Oh Elle, where Portland-based writer and entertainer Elle Stanger takes your sex life from subpar to subversive. Find more of her musings here.
Low libido. Sexual ADHD. Unrequited love. In this edition of Elle Oh Elle, we opened our inbox to a few of your questions. Have a pressing question you’d like to ask? Hit up the comments section.
How do you handle a relationship where your partner has a way higher sex drive than you?
Before I address the question, I’d like to state that “sex drives” are not set in stone, but rather, can vary widely throughout a person’s life. Stress, living conditions, age, and, health are just a few factors that will alter a person’s desire to be intimate or sexual.
That said, relationships tend to be shorter than life cycles, so let’s assume that your baseline is much lower or higher than your partner’s.
My question to you: have you two talked about it? You should probably leave the clothing on for this conversation. Sex educator JoEllen Notte of theredheadbedhead.com advises, “The partner with the lower sex drive should broach the topic with their partner in nonsexual moments -- everything is so much more charged when people are turned on -- and make sure to be clear that it is not a rejection of them specifically.”
When you do talk, don’t point blame.
Do not aim to increase or decrease a person’s sex drive. Would you starve or force-feed someone in order to match your appetite for food? Of course not, and this is barely different.
If your sex drive is lower, do accept that there are other options: be supportive of their masturbation, buy them some toys or a website subscription to use solo, or, if you’re comfortable with it, consider opening up the relationship to include additional play partners. Or consider group therapy.
Regarding consent, the CDC recently published statistics indicating that as many as one in five women, and one in 71 men will experience sexual violence before the age of 25. The likelihood for sexual abuse in transgender populations was recently reported at 64%, although all of these numbers are impossible to exactly quantify. No matter what your gender, my message is clear: NEVER pressure any person for sex. And if you are a survivor, no person has the right to make you feel inadequate for your feelings about your right to give consent.
Notte also adds, “Stay communicative with your partner, and don’t let sex become a no-go topic. Find other ways to connect with your partner emotionally and sensually that are satisfying for both of you and can bridge the gap between you.”
You two are together because you care about each other, right? So, show that you care.