Love, Relationships, Limerence & Affair Recovery

Mismatched desires and libidos

April 03, 2021 David
Love, Relationships, Limerence & Affair Recovery
Mismatched desires and libidos
Chapters
Love, Relationships, Limerence & Affair Recovery
Mismatched desires and libidos
Apr 03, 2021
David

February 14th is Valentine’s Day.  Shops and restaurants have been full of heart shaped images and flowers, since the Christmas decorations came down.  Advertisers are flooding our screen with images of couples in passionate embraces.  It is easy to delude ourselves that desire and carefree sex is happening all around us.

Dr David Perl, Couples Psychotherapist and founder of LoveRelations, claims that one-in-three couples is experiencing difficulties in their sexual relationship and almost three quarters of these cite “mis-matched libido” as the problem.

“A lot of shame and blame has usually set in, by the time the couple arrives at couples therapy,” he says.  “Phrases like “she never wants sex,” or “he wants sex all the time” get bandied around, and in all that blame and shame, nothing gets resolved.”

David maintains that most partners notice a gap between them in sexual desire.  Commonly, the man wants more sex and the woman less, but that is not always the case.  Even couples who start their relationships with fairly well-matched levels of sexual desire can notice a tailing off of sex.  Work pressure, demands of children, not to mention physical illness and diminishing hormone levels, can all take their toll on a partner’s desire for sex.

“At LoveRelations, we encourage couples to be as frank as possible about their need for sex, in the relationship, and what happens to them when this is not met,” says Dr Perl.  “Equally, we encourage the other partner to be as open as possible around his or her lack of interest in sex, and what feelings come up in response to a partner’s sexual demands.”

“Resentment and blame are the feelings we hear most, at LoveRelations,” says David.  “Couples also talk about feeling unattractive, not loved, under-appreciated.  The sexually reluctant partner often talks about feeling pressured, and this having an added inhibitory effect.”

According to a recent findings from the British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyle, published in the British Medical Journal (2018), 15% of men and 34% of women say that they are “not really interested in sex”, statistics that few experts find surprising.  In fact, low desire in one partner is the main reason couples seek therapy.

David reports that many couples come to therapy when it’s almost too late. “In the safe space of LoveRelations couples therapy, we’ll begin by looking at when the couple last had sex.  Often they can’t remember.  If a couple is having sex less than ten times a year, most experts would consider this a sex-less marriage, however, labels and frequency isn’t always helpful as we appreciate every couple is differnt and its more about are both partners content with their sex lives” he says.

“Creating the safe space is of paramount importance in couples therapy” he says.  “We encourage both partners to be as frank as possible about their sex life, and what they feel has gone wrong.  This can be a very hard first step.  Resentment, blame and accusations all surface, he says.”

“There is an unspoken and often unconscious expectation that the higher-desire partner must accept the no-sex verdict, not complain about it and remain monogamous.  Conversely, the lower-desire partner will feel labelled as frigid and with-holding and responsible for the couple’s sexual impasse.

Ruth Perl, co-founder of LoveRelations and Couples Psychotherapist, says: “once the blame and the shame has been examined, we ask the couple what a “good enough” sex life would look like.  In some cases, it might be very straightforward agreement about having sex once a week.   We would then ask what each partner is going to do to bring this about.”

Ruth says that it is often at this point in therapy that  deeper anxieties around sex and intimacy might be touched upon.  She describes one male partner w

Show Notes

February 14th is Valentine’s Day.  Shops and restaurants have been full of heart shaped images and flowers, since the Christmas decorations came down.  Advertisers are flooding our screen with images of couples in passionate embraces.  It is easy to delude ourselves that desire and carefree sex is happening all around us.

Dr David Perl, Couples Psychotherapist and founder of LoveRelations, claims that one-in-three couples is experiencing difficulties in their sexual relationship and almost three quarters of these cite “mis-matched libido” as the problem.

“A lot of shame and blame has usually set in, by the time the couple arrives at couples therapy,” he says.  “Phrases like “she never wants sex,” or “he wants sex all the time” get bandied around, and in all that blame and shame, nothing gets resolved.”

David maintains that most partners notice a gap between them in sexual desire.  Commonly, the man wants more sex and the woman less, but that is not always the case.  Even couples who start their relationships with fairly well-matched levels of sexual desire can notice a tailing off of sex.  Work pressure, demands of children, not to mention physical illness and diminishing hormone levels, can all take their toll on a partner’s desire for sex.

“At LoveRelations, we encourage couples to be as frank as possible about their need for sex, in the relationship, and what happens to them when this is not met,” says Dr Perl.  “Equally, we encourage the other partner to be as open as possible around his or her lack of interest in sex, and what feelings come up in response to a partner’s sexual demands.”

“Resentment and blame are the feelings we hear most, at LoveRelations,” says David.  “Couples also talk about feeling unattractive, not loved, under-appreciated.  The sexually reluctant partner often talks about feeling pressured, and this having an added inhibitory effect.”

According to a recent findings from the British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyle, published in the British Medical Journal (2018), 15% of men and 34% of women say that they are “not really interested in sex”, statistics that few experts find surprising.  In fact, low desire in one partner is the main reason couples seek therapy.

David reports that many couples come to therapy when it’s almost too late. “In the safe space of LoveRelations couples therapy, we’ll begin by looking at when the couple last had sex.  Often they can’t remember.  If a couple is having sex less than ten times a year, most experts would consider this a sex-less marriage, however, labels and frequency isn’t always helpful as we appreciate every couple is differnt and its more about are both partners content with their sex lives” he says.

“Creating the safe space is of paramount importance in couples therapy” he says.  “We encourage both partners to be as frank as possible about their sex life, and what they feel has gone wrong.  This can be a very hard first step.  Resentment, blame and accusations all surface, he says.”

“There is an unspoken and often unconscious expectation that the higher-desire partner must accept the no-sex verdict, not complain about it and remain monogamous.  Conversely, the lower-desire partner will feel labelled as frigid and with-holding and responsible for the couple’s sexual impasse.

Ruth Perl, co-founder of LoveRelations and Couples Psychotherapist, says: “once the blame and the shame has been examined, we ask the couple what a “good enough” sex life would look like.  In some cases, it might be very straightforward agreement about having sex once a week.   We would then ask what each partner is going to do to bring this about.”

Ruth says that it is often at this point in therapy that  deeper anxieties around sex and intimacy might be touched upon.  She describes one male partner w