Finding Compromise with Chantelle Otten: How to Make Room for Different Libidos in Your Relationship

by Chantelle Otten

on Jan 27, 2023

Mismatched libidos leaving your relationship high and dry? Sexologist Chantelle Otten reveals the best ways to meet in the middle.

Finding compromise - summary image

When it comes to relationships, finding common ground is key. But when one partner has a higher libido than the other, navigating the waters of intimacy can become tricky. From an outsider's perspective, it's easy enough to say "just talk about it". However, almost as soon as we dive into difficult conversations like this one, even well-meaning comments start to feel more like advice with a side serve of judgement. And that kind of tension isn't exactly a big turn-on in the bedroom - it’s just plain uncomfortable.

So, how do couples find a compromise when it comes to mismatched libidos? More importantly, what are some concrete strategies for managing different levels of interest in intimate activity, without making either person feel ashamed or less valid? I'm here to answer these questions and more!

Discussing different levels of libido in relationships

When it comes to libido in relationships, there are a variety of factors that can affect the level of sexual desire and arousal. For many couples, libido imbalances can lead to frustration and hurt feelings for both partners. Generally speaking, libido is determined by a combination of psychological, social, and biological components.

On the psychological level, individual differences in mental functioning may result in mismatched levels of sexual desire between partners. For example, someone with an anxious or avoidant attachment style may have difficulty expressing their needs in the bedroom, leading to less frequent or intense sexual activity than the other partner would prefer. Social factors such as societal expectations or cultural norms may also contribute to different levels of libido in relationships. Finally, some people simply have naturally higher or lower levels of sexual arousal than others due to their own biology or physical makeup.

Regardless of the underlying sources causing differing libidos, it is important for couples to engage in open and honest conversations regarding their individual needs and desires. Without this two-way communication, both parties may start to feel unheard, unsatisfied or disrespected within their relationship.

When there is a mismatch in libido levels between partners, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something wrong with either one; rather it just means that each person has different needs and desires when it comes to sex. In these cases, couples should try to compromise and find solutions that work for both parties while still making sure each person’s needs are being met. If communication proves difficult, then a professional therapist may be able to help each partner better understand themselves and their partner's needs, as well as develop strategies for working together more effectively.

Navigating conversations about sex and intimacy without judgement

Finding compromise - navigating conversations

When it comes to navigating conversations about sex and intimacy, it is imperative that each partner approaches the topic with a non-judgmental attitude. Talking about sex can be awkward and stilted at first, however every person has different views and opinions on the subject which should be heard. Even if these opinions differ between each of you, it is important to respect those differences and strive for an atmosphere of mutual understanding and acceptance. The goal should always be to encourage open communication, while also respecting each other's boundaries.

In order to cultivate an accepting and non-judgemental space, it is best to use language that is both respectful and open-minded. Taking an inquisitive stance rather than one of judgement or criticism can be helpful in fostering an atmosphere where people feel comfortable enough to share their thoughts and feelings. Additionally, being mindful of each person’s level of comfort when discussing intimate topics is essential; some may not feel as ready or willing to dive into the conversation as others.

When having these conversations, it is important to remember that sex should never be seen as taboo or shameful; instead, we should strive towards creating a safe space free from judgement or criticism.

Strategies for managing mismatched libidos in a respectful manner

By this point, you know that the only way to manage different levels of interest in the bedroom is by facing it head first. However, having an open and honest conversation about sexual desires sounds all well and good, until you try for the first time and the nerves kick in. No need to panic, it happens to the best of us.

The following strategies will help you approach the conversation in a calm manner and make sure your thoughts are heard, without invalidating or shaming your partner(s) in return.

Finding compromise - levels of interest

(1) Recognise that it’s completely normal for people to have different levels of interest in intimate activity than yourself.

Your individual needs and desires have been shaped by unique psychological, social and biological factors throughout your life, meaning it’s likely that you won’t approach sex in the exact same way. So, make sure you respect each other’s boundaries while communicating your wants and needs from the relationship in terms of intimacy.

Finding compromise - difference

(2) Don’t let your differences overwhelm you.

If one person’s level of interest is higher than the others, there are ways to work around that without making either party feel uncomfortable. Suggest activities that engage both partners; instead of sexual intercourse, explore other forms of intimacy such as kissing, cuddling, talking, or simply spending quality time together. These options can be a great way to show your partner love without feeling pressured into something they may not be ready for yet.

Finding compromise - compromise is essential

(3) Remember that compromise is essential.

There may be times when one person wants more physical intimacy than their partner does; if so, try compromising on activities that both parties can enjoy equally. For example, instead of one person wanting sex while the other doesn't want any kind of physical contact at all, make an agreement to do something else like going out on a date or watching a movie together instead.

You can also find ways to make compromises outside the bedroom by engaging in mutual activities that bring you closer, without anyone feeling obligated to do anything they aren’t comfortable with yet. Going for a walk or cooking dinner together are great alternatives for building intimacy without physical touch.

So, how do we make compromises?

One way to make sure both partners get what they need is by making compromises. However, finding common ground can be a difficult enough task, without the added risk of offending or invalidating one partner. So, let’s run through a few examples of meeting in the middle.

Firstly, if one partner wants to try something new but the other feels uncomfortable, they might consider establishing boundaries before the experimentation begins. These self-imposed limits could outline what each partner is willing to do or how far they are willing to experiment with different levels of intensity. This would allow each partner to feel their needs are being heard and respected.

Other examples of compromise could involve scheduling specific days for certain activities or creating a fantasy list that either partner could draw from when in the mood for something new. Games like the Lovehoney Oh! Kinky Confessions Card Game can help couples with differing libidos better understand their partner's sexual interests, while also adding excitement and variety back into the bedroom.

Compromise aside, mismatched libidos can also be eased by sprinkling in some solo play sessions during the week. Set time aside for self-exploration, and perhaps create an erotic journal in which you write down memories of your best erotic experiences or write up your own fantasies. Whether you choose to further explore them by yourself or share them with your sexual partner, is completely up to you.

Sex toys are also a great way to add variation into self-exploration and partnered play. You never know, maybe our libido is lower because we are bored! Sex toys can make it easier for partners to talk about their desires and explore different types of stimulation together. To get started, try shopping online together or simply buy a toy kit like the ‘Lovehoney X We-Vibe Sweet Seduction Couple’s Sex Toy Gift Set’, which is the perfect romantic gift for you to share. You can also use lingerie and toys to explore new fantasies!

With patience and understanding, couples can create an environment where both parties feel safe and respected when expressing their sexual needs. No matter your level of libido, it’s important to have an open and honest dialogue with your partner about sex. By creating a safe space for open communication, you can navigate different levels of interest without making either person feel ashamed. If you’re struggling to find a solution that works for both partners, read more here for some tips on how to manage different levels of libido in relationships.

The antidotes to your sexual boredom...

Chantelle Otten

Written by Chantelle Otten. Lovehoney Australia's Resident Sexologist
Helping to ensure empowerment, sexual wellbeing and pleasure are at the center of all your sexual experiences

Originally published on Jan 27, 2023. Updated on Jan 30, 2023