Navigating Sexual Partners with Different Needs
Humans are unique. That uniqueness makes the world go round. It also carries over to all different areas of our lives. Including your sex life. You and your sexual and/or romantic partner may be finding that your sexual needs vary, or even seem incompatible at times. This might mean having different libidos, interests, kinks, turn-ons, or anything else that has to do with your sex life. So what do you do when these things don’t seem to be matching up? We’re here to help you find common ground, and plenty of mutual pleasure in your sex life, and beyond.
Libido, aka your sex drive, is what keeps you coming back for more. There’s plenty of things that can affect your libido like your menstrual cycle, stress, medications, your health, sleep, birth control, mental health, and more. For people in heterosexual relationships, people typically think of cis-men having a higher sex drive than cis-women. That’s not the case for everyone. If you have more or less of a sex drive than your partner, you’re not weird. You’re human. If you feel like your low sex drive is a result of some physical or emotional imbalance, you may want to try a natural libido enhancer or go see a specialist. More on that later!
Different Turn Ons
Another area where you might be finding a mismatch in your sex life is your interests. By interests, we mean turn-ons, turn-offs, preferences, and kinks. Again, this is entirely normal. Most people don’t have all of the same interests, so why would it be any different in your sex life. You might be into getting choked, while your partner feels squeamish about it. Your partner might get off on the idea of being watched, while you like total privacy. One of you wants a threesome, while the other wants to keep it just the two of you. You get the idea!
The Power of Communication and Compromise
Oftentimes when there are mismatched expectations in a relationship, resentment starts to build. Or just feeling like you’re not on the same page. Much of this resentment comes from a lack of communication. Communication can be verbal and non-verbal, but talking about sex with your partner is critical for growing together and learning how to navigate having different needs. There’s no way for your partner to know for sure that you’re feeling resentment unless you tell them. There’s an art when it comes to learning to ask for what you want during sex. This kind of talk can be sexy and a form of foreplay. It’s important to have a partner that you can trust with disclosing these desires and on the other hand – giving your partner the same grace by asking them what they want. Knowing what you want is just as important as knowing what you don’t want. Even then, your needs can change, and you may be surprised by being into something that you didn’t think you would be. There’s a difference between compromise and coercion. It’s ok to try something sexually that you aren’t exactly jazzed about, but if you’re being forced or coerced into it – that’s a form of abuse and should be addressed separately.
When it’s Affecting Your Relationship
For the majority of couples, sex is a major part of their relationship. When that is compromised, or there’s a dissonance in it, it can cause a rift in your relationship. Sometimes communicating on your own doesn’t cut it and you need to call on an expert for some extra support. Luckily there’s plenty of people who are dedicated to helping couples overcome these issues.
- Sex Therapists: A sex therapist is just what it sounds like – a therapist who specializes in helping people have better and healthier sex lives. You can see a sex therapist individually and as a couple for a holistic approach to your issues.
- Couples Therapy: While a couples therapist and sex therapist certainly have a lot of overlaps, your sexual issues may come down to communication and deeper issues you have as a couple. A couples therapist can help you get to the bottom of this and go from there.
- OB/GYN: If your sexual differences are due to a physical complication like endometriosis or vaginismus, a gynaecologist can help treat these issues so that you can move forward in your sex life and relationship.
- Sexological Bodywork: Sexological bodywork is something you do as individuals, but the healing you can get from it may transform your sex life. If your sex life has been impacted by sexual trauma, pelvic floor injuries, pregnancy, or injury, this may be a game-changer for both of you.
It’s ok To Have Different Needs
Different people have different sexual needs, and that’s ok. In fact, it’s expected to a certain extent. If sex is something you value in a relationship, and you want to make it work with that person, you’ll find ways to adjust so that everyone’s needs are met for the most part. Some compromise and creativity may be necessary, but you can absolutely get to a place where you feel like you’re both getting what you want, and the relationship is being fed and supported.
Natasha (she/they) is a full spectrum doula, reproductive health content creator, and sexual wellness consultant. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers people carry around birth, sex, and beyond, to help people navigate through their lives with more pleasure, softness, and sensuality. You can connect with Natasha on IG @spectrumoflovedoula.