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Mismatched sex drive?

How to navigate mismatched libidos

Seeing a significant difference in sex drives between partners isn’t exclusive to those in long-term relationships, or couples who have been married for 40 years. It isn't an indication that your relationship is doomed, either.

In order to navigate our different sexual needs, we need to first understand that sexual desire can be fluid and even seasonal. Being open to learning how our partners experience sexual pleasure is fundamental, as is not taking it personally. There is no right or wrong way to ‘get there,’ nor is there a normal frequency at which sex should happen in any relationship.

Sexual Desire Discrepancy (SDD)

A sexual desire discrepancy is the proper term for, or another way of describing the difference between one’s sexual desire and how often a couple has sex. It’s not at all unusual, with about 80% of couples experiencing a mismatch in how often they want sex.

ADHD and sex drive

People with ADHD may struggle with one of two things: a particularly heightened sex drive, or a particularly low sex drive. Those with the former might be hypersexual, meaning their sex drive is unusually high. Those with a lower sex drive might be too distracted or overwhelmed to have an interest in sex (and, of course, it’s possible to fall somewhere in between).

Hypersexuality and ADHD

Generally, hypersexual ADHD people may be more impulsive or spontaneous when it comes to sex. This isn’t too surprising considering sex releases lots of endorphins and produces a sense of calm that can in part neutralise the symptoms of ADHD, or that the disorder is often associated with increased risk-taking behaviour.

Hyposexuality and ADHD

At the opposite end of the spectrum, ADHD people who are considered hyposexual tend to have a significantly low sex drive. This might be directly linked to ADHD, or to do with side effects of medication like antidepressants - which are often prescribed to people with ADHD.

Someone who is hyposexual and has ADHD might be too easily distracted or irritable, or struggle with mood regulation, and therefore might find it difficult to relax and not always necessarily be in the mood for sex.

How to manage mismatched sex drives

When navigating a disparity in libidos, it’s important to consider how we communicate, how we make our partner feel appreciated outside of sex, and how we actually define sexual pleasure.

If you find that you and your partner are simply in the mood at different times, it’s time to meet in the middle (relationships are about compromise, after all). For example, if one partner is in the mood for penetrative sex but the other person just isn’t feeling it, be open to trying something other than penetration.

Sex can be oral, using toys, foreplay - it can be anything you want. However, if the person with a lower libido isn’t in the mood for any kind of sex, you might want to compromise by getting intimate in another way. This could be kissing, spooning, or taking a bath or shower together.

If the problem stems from one person usually being too tired when the other person wants to have sex (for example, after work) having it earlier on in the day or making more time for it on weekends could solve this. Mapping out when and where to have sex doesn’t seem particularly, well, sexy. But making the effort will demonstrate to your partner that you care about their needs as well as the relationship.

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