Welcome back to AMA (Ask Me Anything), the regular blog feature within which we chat about sex, relationships, work, mental health - anything (the clue is in the title). Unlike previous weeks where we’ve sunk our teeth into three tasty beasts, this week we’re tackling just one question about differing sex drives. This is a theme that I see cropping up in my life and the lives of my friends quite often, so I wanted to dedicate a little more word count to it in the hopes that my experiences could be helpful. Now, napkins prepped: let’s tuck in.
My sex drive is a lot higher than my partners and I worry that he’s not into me anymore. Is he losing interest?
I’m going to say something to you which, at one time, felt entirely alien to me: it’s common for women to have higher sex drives than their male counterparts. In fact, I’ve found that in my early twenties, a lot of the women I know who are in heterosexual relationships do at one point or another have a higher sex drive. Thing is, we hear about it less often precisely because of the kind of sentiment expressed in the question. It feels uncomfortable - embarrassing even - that these ravenous, sex-crazed monsters that we’ve been led to believe men are, are choosing, freely, to not engage in sexual acts with us. There’s only one explanation: it must be us. It must be our fault, right? Because the other women we know are always talking about how they can’t keep their boyfriends away from them or they’re constantly being pestered for nudes or sexts or impromptu field sex with a dandelion up their butt. But us? He’s not that interested.
If we’re going to talk about this, let’s have it out properly. The real reason we feel a little humiliated by our own sexual prowess is because it threatens this model of femininity and masculinity that most of us have fed on for the last however-many years. That men are more sexual, that men are allowed to be more sexual, that men work on impulse and strength and gravel and stuff from a random drawer in the kitchen. And us, as the “lock that needs to be opened” (did you ever have that God awful analogy delivered to you as a teenager? Hold the bag whilst I vomit) - our attractiveness is our currency. How sexy we are, how tempting, how irresistible to even the most stoic of potential partners. This is how it works. Men are the hunters, women are the hunted. And if we’re not being hunted - even when we’re laying down on the ground with a ‘stick your spear in here’ sign - then we feel lacking. We’ve let down our innate function.
EHHHHHHHH (that’s an incorrect buzzer noise, if you didn’t guess). Listen, I’ve been there. One of the reasons my first relationship ended was because of incompatibility in the sexual arena, and Keir and I have argued about this at both ends of the spectrum: me wanting more sex, and him wanting more sex. Sex - especially in long-term relationships - is this constantly moving and morphing beast, and just when you think you’ve got it figured out - just when you think, yes, this is a pleasant frequency for intercourse - something changes. One of you feels more stressed. One of you starts to feel self-conscious about your body. One of you is getting drunk too much. One of you is hormonal and feeling horny as hell. One of you gets comfortable and forgets that a happy sex life requires effort. Anything can tip the scale in one direction or the other, and you have to adapt (again).
My biggest concern whenever I feel my sexual appetite isn’t being met is that it’s something to do with the way I look. It’s because my body isn’t toned, or I’m always dressed like a slob at home, or because I haven’t paid to get my teeth fixed yet. Every and any component conducive to my sexiness is instantly magnified, and this is where I find fault for someone not wanting to rip my clothes off. He loves me, but he doesn’t fancy me anymore, and if he says otherwise then he’s being dishonest with me, because look: the proof is in my unpoked pudding.
This is where we need a reality check ourselves. Because - contrary to popular opinion - men are not emotionless sex machines (not all of them, anyway). They get tired. They get wound up. They get bored. The need to feel safe and relaxed is not unique to us; so much what constitutes good sex is in the mind, and sometimes we can reduce our partners to desire alone in a race to find fault with ourselves.
And having been on both sides of this issue, it’s not great having the lower sex drive either. Every evening is a countdown to the disappointment bomb you’re inevitably going to drop, and every touch or kiss feels weighted in expectation that you’re worried is eventually going to suffocate you. You feel guilty, you feel a bit trapped, and most of all, you do not feel turned on. You do not want someone fiddling with your precious bits, because you’ve forced yourself to do it a few times and it feels awful. You never orgasm, you’re not present in the moment, and you’re often on the edge of oh my god I’m actually going to start crying whilst I’m having sex which is never a cute look. Even if you’re individually happy with your sex life, you feel pressure to satisfy the other person which in turns makes you want to protect yourself more.
The whole thing is very confusing, which is why it’s such a big issue in partnerships irrespective of age or gender. Speaking personally, I used to rely heavily on sexual attention for validation. I needed the desire of another person to feel like I was worth being desired. And I felt like I needed it from another person because they would be brutally honest: of course I want to think I’m attractive, but I need it proven by somebody else’s instinctual desire to believe that I am. I had low self-confidence - despite the bravado I performed for both myself and others - and I used sex as a way to bolster that. Did it make feel better? Did I enjoy it? Did I even want to have sex each and every time I was having it? No, no and no. But much like we reach for the wine bottle whenever we need a little confidence boost, sex was my way of trying to make myself feel better.
That’s why, when my own sex drive wasn’t mirrored back to me, my default reaction was to collapse in on myself. I didn’t trust my partners’ insistence that it wasn’t my fault, because that is literally “it’s not you, it’s me”, and am I going to waste the most precious years of my life here looking like a fool? No I’m not. Huff and puff and argue and ignore and silence and feel bad and feel terrible and hate my body and go on a diet. It wasn’t until I started to really think about this need for sexual validation and where it stems from (lol #DaddyIssues) that I could unpick this cycle in my mind. The better I started to feel about myself, the less I felt I needed sex. So much so that I probably went too far the other way. Fuck sex! I don’t need anyone! I can do all of this myself!
Anyway, I digress. I’m not trying to say the reason your sex drive is higher is because you’re overcompensating for low self-confidence like moi - you probably just have a higher sex drive - but what I am trying to say is that the difference between yours’ and your boyfriends’ appetites is not down to you. You’re not responsible for what he wants and when, especially because he probably doesn’t know either (do any of us?). But I won’t bullshit you: maybe he has lost interest in you. It happens. I always find that advice posts like this will perform acrobatic miracles to avoid the potential unfluffy truth, but people get bored of their partners all the time and maybe he’s not into you anymore. If that’s the case, you’ll eventually break up and find someone who does want to bust your brains out every ten minutes, so it’s okay.
But if that’s not the case, which it may well not be, then maybe you have to find a way to accept that he just has a lower sex drive than you. That he’s fulfilled by less sex, and he’s content with the way he is. In this situation, open, honest, and fearless communication is the way forward. Say the things you’d usually be too scared to say (i.e. “so am I supposed to live the rest of my life not having as much sex as I want? Even though sex is important to me?”), and be prepared for things to get a bit trickier before they get easier. Sex drives change so the level you’re each at now is unlikely to be the level you’re at forever, which means it’s up to you as to whether this is a game-breaking difference or something you’re willing to compromise on together. Either way, make sure you’re masturbating often, appreciating your body for the scientific and medical miracle that is, and understanding that you’re value comes from you, and not from how much other’s want to fuck you.