Feel less than in-sync in the sack? You’re far from alone. Mismatched sexual desires are responsible for splitting up even the most otherwise in-love couples. A study by the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin reported that 39% of men and 27% of women would break up with their partner over a libido that didn’t match their own.
Does this mean we’re doomed to an endless cycle of dating until we find our sexual soul mate? Don’t think about kicking your partner to the curb just yet. The sex drive is nothing more than a cleverly-coined media facade, and your relationship is a lot stronger than outdated cliches.
We throw around the term “sex drive” because it sounds enticing and hot, and – let’s face it – sex sells. But this pop-culture buzz word leaves a lot of women feeling less than sexy. When we find ourselves repeating “not tonight, honey” like a broken record or wishing we could keep sexual pace with Carrie Bradshaw’s girl squad on Sex and the City, it hurts our self-esteem and sexual identity in a big way. Do we need a constant lady boner to maintain our Empowered Goddess/Bad Bitch status? The sex drive myth is no different from the rest of the media-imposed stereotypes that make smart women question their worth. There’s no singular right way to be a woman, and there’s no wrong way to want sex.
Stick with the Science
The reality is a lot more scientific than sexually in-your-face, and thankfully all those rumors about your love life going down the drain aren’t true because your sex drive doesn’t really exist, according to sex educator and author Dr. Emily Nagoski. In relation to biology, a “drive” is all about survival. Without the drive to eat and drink, we’d die. Your drive literally keeps you alive – but sex isn’t a life or death situation. What we feel isn’t a drive for sex – it’s a desire, and there’s simply no way we can accurately compare our needs and wants to those of another, even our partner.
Nagoski breaks down sexual desire into two categories: spontaneous desire and responsive desire. What the majority of women report feeling is responsive desire – a reaction to sexually arousing stimuli, like a soft kiss on the neck coupled with a pair of strong hands around your waist. What women are taught they should feel is spontaneous desire – a random bout of horniness that can strike at any moment – which is a lot more rare and most commonly reported by men.
Only 10-20% of women feel spontaneously aroused on a regular basis. However, either type of desire is possible and totally natural for any gender, but that’s not stopping big businesses from trying to profit off our insecurities and body issues.
Yes, You’re All Normal
From the media to the medical industry, unethical business practices have preyed on women, convincing us that we’re either too much or not enough – too sexual, or not sexy enough. Pharmaceutical companies push pills that promise to “fix” waning sex drives, but the science behind such medical marketing is almost pseudo. Craving sex 7 days a week is no more or less normal than only getting those sensual tingles a couple times per month.
Healthy sexual desire is all about what feels right for you. The only sexual ailment requiring treatment is a lack of all desire and arousal – whether spontaneous or responsive – in women that want an active sex life, and the remedy doesn’t require risky chemical side-effects. Sex therapy and couples’ counseling can equip you and your partner with the tools to bring the spark back into the bedroom with an approach tailored to your specific needs.
Love the One You’re With
Sexual desire fits neatly into the way we think about body image and self-worth: everyone is different, and we should celebrate and embrace the way we’re uniquely made. The key is to harness your sexual energy and make the most of those turned-on moments when you feel the fire starting in your sexy parts. Talking to your partner can bridge the arousal gap and even lead to some surprisingly hot new bedroom tactics. Bring sex toys into the mix. Commit to trying something new at least once a month. Spend more time in foreplay. Make-out for a half hour without taking your clothes off. And for those times when the mood still isn’t right, encourage each other to indulge in self-pleasure.
Desire comes in many forms, and yours – whether a little, a lot, or somewhere in-between – is worthy of celebration (and a damn good orgasm).
Please note that advice offered by Intimina may not be relevant to your individual case. For specific concerns regarding your health, always consult your physician or other licensed medical practitioners.
Colleen began her sexual wellness career as a sex toy educator in manufacturing and retail. She has since branched out as a writer and marketer, covering all facets of sexual health and anatomy. At Intimina, she specializes in women’s medical care and health concerns, menstruation, sex and pregnancy, and birth control. Colleen frequently confers with top sex educators and intimate wellness experts to stay on top of the constantly changing sexual wellness space.