The last thing anyone wants is to go into a relationship under the assumption that they’re both on the same page only to find out that they have radically different views on sex or, worse, finding themselves in an apparent bait-and-switch scenario
Most of these issues tend to result not because of any inherent perversity or flaw in one or both partners; it’s simply a matter of the fact that they’re sexually incompatible. They simply have needs that the other person can’t (or won’t) fulfill. They’re a square peg trying to fit into a round hole; you might be able to wedge it in there, but it sure as hell isn’t going to be a good fit.
It’s important for couples to talk with one another – especially early on in the relationship – to determine just wether or not they’re a match, sexually.
Do You Have Matching Sex Drives?
The most common sexual incompatibility that people run into is a case of mismatched sex drives. There is always going to be an imbalance in terms of libido – the odds of having perfectly matched sex drives are slightly worse than the odds of successfully navigating an asteroid field in a busted-ass Corellian freighter – but it quickly becomes a matter of degree.
“Sir, the odds of successfully navigating an asteroid field are actually quite high! Asteroids are often kasidie many miles ap-“ “NEVER CORRECT MY METAPHORS!”
It’s one thing if one partner wants it every day and twice on Sundays and the other prefers it once a week. It’s another entirely when the partner with a lower libido wants it once a month if that. There simply isn’t a way to find a compromise that’s going to be satisfying to both partners; the mismatch in their relative horniness is simply going to be a bridge too far.
The accepted rule of thumb is that the partner with the higher libido should default to the desires of the person with the lower libido… but this isn’t always an acceptable or even tenable solution. It’s easy to say that an orgasm is an orgasm and one should be satisfied with jerking it or using a sex-toy, and in fairness, those are ways that the hornier partner should attend to their own needs. However, sex in the context of a relationship is more than just about getting off. It’s about fostering and maintaining the connection between partners, about feeling emotional intimacy along with physical intimacy. It’s about feeling desired by the person you want to desire you. It’s about feeling as though your partner sees your happiness as a priority, rather than an inconvenience or an annoyance. There is only so long before a mismatch in sex-drives causes a rift in the relationship – possibly a permanent one.
“Amazing how you can stay up to catch the midnight movie premier, but you’re ‘too tired’ when I even look at you cross-eyed.”
It’s important that both partners be honest with one another, especially in the beginning, about how much of a priority they place on sex and (ideally) how frequently they would prefer to have it. It’s also important to recognize the difference between being stressed, depressed, tired or otherwise less interested in sex due to external influences – which is temporary – versus a libido mismatch. It’s also important to recognize that libidos can change as we age and libidos that may have matched up can end up in conflict… and have plans in place as to how to handle it.
One of the ongoing issues with discussing sex is the assumption that traditional monogamy is the standard, that it’s natural and effortless; that people who aren’t monogamous are somehow deviant or lacking in willpower. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: monogamy isn’t natural, it’s cultural and in fact many of us are bad at it. If it were easy, then we wouldn’t have nearly 50% of men and women in relationships reporting having committed an infidelity. We also tend to assume that monogamy is all-encompassing; that if you love someone, you’ll never ever desire anyone else. In reality, we will lust after other people or have crushes on other people all the time. Monogamy just means you choose not to have sex with other people, not that you don’t want to.