Many couples will experience different levels of sex drive at some point in their relationship. For some couples differences in sex drive may have been present from the start of the relationship. This is normal and lots of people find ways of compromising that feel fine to both partners. For some people, their sex drive lessens over time and finding ways to talk about this together may help to prevent a partner feeling unloved and rejected.
If things seem to have changed for you and you’re concerned about it, try to work out what is causing the difference in your sex drives. Here are some of the things that can contribute to changes in sex drive:
Issues within the relationship
If you’re in a relationship that doesn’t feel OK, then it may be that sex is not something that you want to have with your partner. Many couples work through difficult relationship issues, either together or with the help of a counsellor and sex becomes something that feels more possible again and may even be more rewarding than before. But no one should have sex against their will or feel pressurised into activities that don’t feel right or comfortable. If you have worries about this, it might be helpful to talk to a counsellor in our free Live Chat.
Stress is one of the most common causes for a decrease in sex drive. Equally though, getting close to someone can be a way of managing stress although it’s important that no one feels their partner ‘only wants sex’ and isn’t interested in how stressed they may be feeling.
If you think stress is affecting your sex life, you might want to think about talking with your partner about it and make it clear it’s not a reflection of how you’re feeling about the relationship (unless of course it is, in which case talking about the relationship issues may be helpful).
Mental and physical health issues
Some mental health issues like depression and anxiety can lead to one partner withdrawing from sex or in some cases needing a lot more. Some physical ailments can have similar effects too. If this is a problem for you, it may be helpful to discuss with your GP. Some medications can also affect sex drive and it may be possible to talk with them about alternatives. The effects of mental and physical problems can come between partners and if this is the case, talking with a counsellor may help you both to manage things better.
Although kids are great, becoming a parent is often exhausting. Sleepless nights, a routine that might feel very different to what you had before and the need to focus on caring for the new addition to the family can all take their toll on feeling like having sex, or even just getting close. Whether you’ve given birth, adopted or started fostering, many people find that the new demands they face can make any sort of sex life feel problematic. Taking time to explore how you feel with a partner, friends or a counsellor can help prevent sex becoming taboo and help you establish what you now need from your sex life and how it could be realistically managed.
Issues around body image
Lots of life stages affect our bodies. Illness, aging, pregnancy, weight and surgery can all affect how we feel about ourselves and our bodies and how much of our bodies we want to share with ourselves or with a partner. For some people, being sexual plays a part in feeling loved and accepted regardless of anything else that might be going on. For others, sex might be something that now feels out of reach or at the bottom of the priority list. Finding the right words when there may be other serious problems can feel overwhelming and it may be difficult for a partner to understand how you’re feeling. If you recognise any of this, it could useful to talk to a Relate Counsellor or Sex Therapist who can help you to work through your feelings on your own or together.
How we can help
If you're worried about your sex life, there are various ways we can help.