How to Handle Sex Drive Differences in a Monogamous Relationship

Some might immediately say to bring in the little blue pill, but maintaining a monogamous relationship requires a bit more than a pill.
sex drive, monogamy, gay dating
Credit: Yves Navant for Kinkster MAG

Kinkster MAG reader James, recently asked for our thoughts on the effect to a relationship when individuals in a couple have differing sex drives. I’m not a sex or relationship therapist so take my comments simply as someone who was in a long term monogamous relationship (10 years), who has been single for over decade, and is still best friends with his ex.

One needs to consider several matters when confronted with this topic. Some might immediately say to find a way to boost the libido of the partner who’s not putting out enough. Let’s not point the finger so quickly and bring out the little blue pill so fast.

First let’s consider some of the biological, medical and psychological issues that may be at play. As men age, we have more issues in life to deal with and our bodies physically change. Likely we have increased pressures and priorities to deal with (work and career, family, our own health, maintaining a relationship) which might cause us to put sex at a lower priority than we had it in our 20s. Also the added stress in our lives factor into a lack of interest in sex generally and can possibly create a lackluster performance in the bedroom.

We might have complicating health conditions which require us to take medications (for HIV, or anti-psychotics as antidepressants) which would factor into having a reduced sexual libido. If this is a factor there are plenty of articles out there on reducing stress, taking testosterone, taking the little blue pill, or altering our diet and exercise habits to increase your libido.

Although our sex life may change and our sexual desire may decrease as we age, our sexual desire doesn’t go entirely away. We are men after all. Men are reported to continue to produce testosterone, the hormone primarily controlling our sex drive, well into their 70s. The health educators at Go Ask Alice! write, “Some men in their late 20s and 30s notice that their penises aren’t as erect as they once were, and that they may require direct stimulation to get hard. Around ages 40 to 50, a man may require direct stimulation to get an erection, and his erection may not be as full or firm as before.” They continue to say, “As men reach their 50s through 70s, physical and mental arousal become much more critical to erection.” You may have to review your actual sexual activities. Are you undertaking what is sexually stimulating to your partner and are you doing it in the proper way to stimulate him?

Another factor to consider is how long you and your partner have been together. If your time together has been short and this issue is coming up, it is certainly an easier point to review how important sex is to your relationship and to what extent you’re willing to change to maintain the relationship as it is. Most will agree that sexual activity is an important factor in a relationship so identifying its proper priority if you’re in the relationship for the long-term is critical to where you ultimately end up. You might have started the relationship hot and heavy but over time if you’re planning the long-haul in a monogamous committed relationship you should be developing deeper ties, a stronger commitment and feeling ever more inspired by each other. If one’s focus is only about sex, it’s time to review and re-align.

Melissa Fritchle points out a few critical points in her article “4 Ways To Find That Person You Actually WANT To Be Monogamous With.” You must choose your partner carefully if you’re planning monogamy. Sometimes you’re drawn to the excitement of hot steamy sex with a one-night stand. The sex was so good you’re drawn to that person further so you might hang out further. As you connect further and decide to undertake the monogamous long-term relationship you have to clarify and re-align your expectations. Fritchle also suggests jumping in to monogamy when it’s right for YOU. Are you attempting to be monogamous for yourself, because this is what YOU want, or are there other cultural and familial pressures on you to be monogamous? Just be clear you’re doing this for YOU.

If opening the relationship is on the table as an option to allow the partner with the higher sex drive an outlet, it might be time to consider that and open the dialogue and go through the process of mapping out your rules of engagement. If an open relationship is not an option, you both have to find a way for both of you to be satisfied. Since you are both committing to the relationship, the partner with the lesser drive should find a way to comfortably step up and the one with the heavy drive has to find a way to tone it down or find an additional agreed upon or appropriate outlet (your friend Rosy Palm may need to visit more often).

It’s also important to consider what sexually interests you both and to what degree you’re willing to change? Are one of you so deep into a kink or fetish that’s the only way you get excited and your partner has just dabbled in it? For monogamy to work you both have to understand and be willing to compromise on your sexual interests and the extent you’re willing to go to make it work. If a long-term relationship is your goal and sexual interests are not aligned, I’ll be the Debbie Downer and say, it’s probably not going to work out and it may be time to move on to your next monogamous relationship. In the end, monogamy requires communication and compromise and for both of you to be happy you have to do what’s right for YOU.

Men & Sexuality

John is a thinker and a doer. He's a whiz at working through policies and procedures but loves taking time to explore the urban environment in which he lives and calls home. He also appreciates getting his fancy tickled.