Why are you sometimes in the mood for sex, and other times you're not at all? Why do women generally have a lower sex drive than men? How do you handle those differences in your relationship?
Clinical sexologist and psychotherapist Kristie Overstreet answered these questions and more in an interview with FamilyShare. By better understanding your own sexuality, you'll be able to have a better, healthier relationship with your love.
Overstreet explains that many people think libido and sex drive are the same thing, when they're actually quite different. Libido is the baseline interest in sex, or sexual appetite. Sexual drive, however, is desire, and has both a biological and cognitive component.
"Many people confuse libido and desire with arousal, which is the actual physiological response to sexual stimuli," Overstreet says. "Males and females are wired completely differently therefore their libido is different."
Why do you not feel in the mood sometimes?
Stress, anxiety and excessive worry are among the top reasons people fail to feel the desire to get intimate, says Overstreet. The stress and worry could be straightforwardly about sex (fear of getting pregnant, stage fright, etc.), but it could also be other stresses you wouldn't think would be related to sexual desire.
When it comes down to it, anything you stress about affects your sex drive, from money to family to work.
Overstreet says other big factors include low self-esteem and poor self-image. These, of course, lead a person to not feel sexy and might even cause them to feel too embarrassed about themselves to desire sex.
Religious guilt, or the 'good girl syndrome' as some call it is another cause of low sexual desires. It happens when women were raised in an environment that condemned sex as sinful or evil, leading to feelings of shyness or even guilt once they're in a marriage.
Overstreet also says that sexual drives are not always just in our heads - there are several physical factors that influence our desire to get intimate, including lack of exercise, weight gain and alcohol or drug use.
Overstreet says there are several big differences between men and women when it comes to their intimate relationship.
"Men and women have different libidos because of how they connect sexually," Overstreet says, explaining that simple physical differences in our bodies are a main factor in differing libidos. Because of those physical differences, it's typically much quicker and easier for men to get aroused in the moment than women.
"Women typically need to feel relaxed and have time to invest in foreplay for pleasure," Overstreet says. "Men typically do not have to feel relaxed and require very little foreplay. This is a huge difference that creates a desire discrepancy between men and women."
Age comes in as a major factor as well. Men tend to peak sexually in their younger years - around 15-25, according to Overstreet. On the other hand, women tend to peak in their older years around mid 30s to late 40s.
Just because women more commonly have a lower sex drive than their male partners doesn't mean it's never the other way around. Though the stereotype stands that men in our society think about sex all the time and women hardly ever think about sex, Overstreet says that's not the case.
"The majorities of men do have a high libido and think about sex more often than women. However, there are many men whose libido is lower than their female partner. This is often due to stress, anxiety, relationship conflict and other factors."
How to handle differing sex drives in your relationship
Overstreet gives several pieces of advice to couples who struggle with differing drives:
"Make sure you are communicating your needs effectively. Communication is lubrication! Be able to discuss your differences in a respectable and non-judgmental manner."
"Explore what other types of intimacy that you both can improve that doesn't focus on physical intimacy. Often when other forms of intimacy improves, physical intimacy will follow. For example, recreational intimacy, communication intimacy, spiritual intimacy, etc."
"Don't give up hope that intimacy and connection will improve. Don't make the differences in sex drive the most important thing in the relationship."
"Schedule a consult with a Certified Sex Therapist or Clinical Sexologist to discuss techniques, tips and ways to work together to less[en] the differences in sex drives."
Differences in male and female sexualities can lead to complications and roadblocks in relationships, but they're not the end of the world. By better understanding the reasons for those differences and following Overstreet's suggestions, couples can work towards a better intimate relationship.