More interested in sex than your partner? You don’t always want to ask for desire, but you can find a middle ground together

More interested in sex than your partner? You don’t always want to ask for desire, but you can find a middle ground together
More interested in sex than your partner? You don’t always want to ask for desire, but you can find a middle ground together

Having children has changed the sex lives of Jan D’Haene (38) and Marlies Decavel (34), they said in the series Long Live Love. The desire became distributed differently: Marlies is often too tired to have sex, Jan wants to have sex more often than she does. When you feel like it more than your partner, ugly thoughts run through your head. Why can’t he take a moment? Am I really that unattractive? There’s something wrong with him. There’s something wrong with me. And also: is this normal? What does this say about our relationship?

Chances are you will adapt and withdraw; you don’t want to force your body and fantasies on someone who doesn’t care about them. But it is also difficult. Being sexually rejected by someone who is not (yet) your love hurts. But when it comes to your own partner, it hurts even more. It doesn’t get more personal, even though your partner may not mean it that way at all.

Too many couples fall into a game of too little and too much, says sexologist Vanessa Muyldermans. “You don’t have too much desire for sex and your partner doesn’t have too little, I make it clear to them: you have a difference in desire. You have to bridge that difference together, as a couple. That difference in desire can be about the frequency of sex, but also about the ways in which you have sex. When a couple faces a major difference, masturbation can be a lifesaver. Or you can decide that the partner with the greater sex drive can explore his or her desires outside the relationship.” But most people with a higher libido don’t necessarily want that, they just want more sex with their partner. Because he or she is simply the nicest person on earth to have sex with.

In most love relationships, passion is given up in favor of stability, says relationship therapist Esther Perel. “Love loves to know everything about each other; passion needs mystery,” Perel writes Erotic intelligence. “Love likes to close the distance between you and me, while passion is activated by that distance. If intimacy is increased by frequency and familiarity, eroticism is dulled by frequency. She thrives on the mysterious, the new and the unexpected. Love is about having, passion is about wanting.”You can stir up erotic tension by assuming that you never fully know your love, Perel knows. Merging completely with your loved one strangles lust.

“I like to compare sexual arousal with a road where you have to pass two gates,” says Muyldermans. “The last gate is about what you like: which positions, which rhythm, do you like rough language or sweet words? You open that gate just before or during sex. But first you have to pass the first gate. It is about being receptive, feeling safe and relaxed. Due to stress, fatigue and hormone fluctuations, that first gate can remain closed. Only when you feel good and are open to stimuli will they do something to you physically and mentally.”

More than Gaye

Libido does not exist, say the Dutch sexologists Rik van Lunsen and Ellen Laan in their book Sex!. What they mean by that: spontaneously wanting sex is a myth. Van Lunsen and Laan also emphasize that men and women have the same desire for sex. Only, and here comes the “but”, sex is more often unpleasant for women than for men: for example, ten percent of women always have pain during penis-in-vagina sex. This pleasure gap explains why women generally put on the brakes more often. “Women are no less sexually motivated than men,” says Muyldermans. “However, due to the physiological-biological difference, they usually have to travel a longer distance to become sexually aroused and ultimately have an orgasm.”

Van Lunsen and Laan point out that there are three conditions for enjoyable sex: stimuli, context and communication. Without incentives, nothing happens. There has to be a stimulus that makes you want it: his naked collarbones, a nice line in that one message, the clever way he cooks a salmon, the smell of her sweat when she is doing chores – whatever can excite you.

And then there is the context, what Muyldermans calls the first gate: the circumstances have to be right. Stress and fatigue kill sexual desire. Often it takes more than lighting some tea lights next to the full bath, Let’s get it on by Marvin Gaye and hey, fingers crossed.

Don’t please

Which brings us seamlessly to the third condition for fun sex: communication. It can be difficult to talk about sex, especially about sex that isn’t there. You don’t want to ask for lust. Nothing is more of a turn-off than a loved one who does it ‘because he or she has to’. Sex out of duty and for the country? Yikes.

But indicating what you like in bed is an obligation if you want a healthy and more passionate sex life. You don’t even have to use words during sex: you also communicate with sounds and hands that gently guide you.

But look, we have already arrived at the second gate, while we are still lingering uncertainly at the first gate that offers the prospect of a nice lovemaking session. Time to communicate about the difficult aspects of our sex life, with words chosen carefully and respectfully. “But even then it is a difficult conversation,” Muyldermans admits. “You don’t want to hurt or anger someone you love. But if you don’t say it, you are depriving your partner of information that he or she can use. Instead of accusing your partner of not having enough interest in sex, it is better to explain in such a conversation what sex means to you and what making love does to you. This could be: ‘I want to see you enjoy yourself’ or ‘I feel physically connected and secure during sex’. Doesn’t matter, speak it out. In this way, talking about meaning immediately becomes less painful and offensive. And at the same time more correct, because sex is a means, even if only to experience pleasure.”

“Find out together what the partner who is less interested needs to be more at ease. What makes him block? How can the more eager partner help the other person relax? Find out what the blockages are and work on them, together and individually. I even know a couple who moved because the stress around their home left them without a sex drive. So it can be that easy.”

Moving was not necessary for Jan and Marlies: they tried aphrodisiacs and talked a lot, they said Long live love. “We have become more honest,” said Jan. “Marlies is much better at indicating when she doesn’t feel like it, instead of just trying to please. And for my part, I dare to say that it has been a while.”

In short, some couples don’t make it an issue, for others it is an issue that can be addressed. For other couples it is a road that ultimately ends. Because sometimes the lack of desire also kills love. Love may be a verb, but sometimes work is over and time for vacation elsewhere.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: interested sex partner dont desire find middle ground


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