I’m not in the mood: mismatched sexual desire in relationships

One partner may want spontaneity while the other prefers to schedule.

One partner may want spontaneity while the other prefers to schedule.

What you need to know:

  • If you seem to always be out of the mood to have sex, Dr. Hart advises you to respond positively to your partner’s advances.
  • Your level of desire is likely to fall if your partner asks to get intimate on a daily basis.
  • There are women who will not experience the desire to make love until they are well into the act.


The level of sexual desire in a relationship wanes as time passes. In many cases, the metamorphosis of sexual desire is not attached at the hip for both partners. One will want more sex while the other will want less or even none of it. According to Michael Castleman, the author of Great Sex, the desire for sex usually cools in the period between six months to a year after a new sexual relationship has been formed.

Why it occurs

Your level of desire is likely to fall if your partner asks to get intimate on a daily basis. “It becomes a task where the partner with low sexual desire is pressured to fulfill the persistent sexual needs of the partner with higher desire,” says Dr. Sarah Hunter, a sex researcher and the author of Not Always in the Mood. Additionally, according to psychologist Dr. Chris Hart, controlling intimacy could be a reason your relationship is suffering from mismatched sexual desires. “Once you seem to be always saying that you’re not in the mood, he will wait for you to say otherwise. He doesn’t want to be turned down any more than you do, and he is protecting his feelings,” he says.

What to do when not in the mood

If you seem to always be out of the mood to have sex, Dr. Hart advises you respond positively to your partner’s advances. “This will tell him you want him, and making out will soon turn you on,” he says. His sentiments are echoed by Dr. Hunter who says that for many women, sexual desire tends to be responsive rather than spontaneous. “Women don’t feel a sudden urge to have sex as they run from work to other activities. Instead, they respond to sexual cues in their environment and often take time to warm up to the idea of sex,” she says. Also, Castleman says there are women who will not experience desire to make love until they are well into the act.

Scheduling

According to Castleman, consider scheduling sex if your levels of desire are mismatched. For instance, you can make deliberate schedules if one of you is asexual and is not easily drawn towards sexual intercourse, or is not aroused by the thought of engaging in intercourse. “Scheduling works to get you back on track in prioritising your bedroom activities. It also reduces resentments and boosts overall happiness in the relationship.” When scheduling, psychologist Patrick Musau recommends you go for dates when you are less likely to be occupied by other obligations. “You can start by choosing a time when you and your partner can just be together without the interruption of pending work assignments or television. When you start scheduling, consider going to bed earlier together, putting on inviting lingerie or sleeping raw,” he says. He also says if one partner wants to schedule and the other wants spontaneity, the scheduling partner can mark his calendar in secret without revealing the sex dates to the partner who’s turned on by spontaneity. This will help give this partner the feeling of being in relationship where intimacy is spontaneous rather than an obligation marked on the calendar like a cattle dip date.

What research says

According to a research study on the frequency of sex in relationships conducted by the University of Chicago and included in the book Sex in America, couples aged 20 to 30 usually engage in sex twice a week. Those under 40 make love four to six times a month while those over 40 have sex three times a month. Nonetheless, according to Dr. Hart, you don’t have to conform to a particular number as the acceptable figure for monthly sex. You should have as much sex as you can. “Sex should be a big priority and an important part of your routine because it’s intimacy that keeps things flowing,” he says.

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