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Sex should be fun, but it can also be complicated. Welcome to Sexual Resolution, a biweekly column in which sex therapist Vanessa Marin answers your most confidential questions to help you achieve a healthy, joyful sex life. Here, she helps a reader who is struggling with mismatched sex drives with her girlfriend. Have your own question? Ask it here.
DEAR VANESSA: I’m trying to get advice on how I can better handle my and my girlfriend’s sex drives. I’m the one who wants sex more frequently than she does. I’ve tried bringing up my needs with her multiple times, without pressuring her, but letting her know that this is something that is important to me. I wonder if maybe she doesn’t enjoy the sex that we do have, which is why she doesn’t want it as often. I’m definitely open to learning more about her needs, but she just won’t talk about it. What can I do? – Higher Sex Drive, 30
DEAR HSD: You’ve done so many things right so far. You’ve been vulnerable and honest about your desires. You’re trying not to pressure your girlfriend or make her feel bad about the two of you potentially having mismatched sex drives. You’re open to learning how to bring her more pleasure during sex. You’re still trying to initiate conversations with her, even though your first attempts haven’t been fruitful. These are all awesome things.
I know it’s frustrating that you haven’t gotten much of a response from your girlfriend thus far. Many in your position would likely feel similarly, but I recommend giving it another shot but changing your approach. I suggest starting with the more general idea of talking about your sex life and working on it together as a team.
Your girlfriend might be overwhelmed by even talking about your sex life in the first place, much less examining her sex drive, considering your request to have sex more frequently, and figuring out how to give you feedback about what she wants in bed (much less even knowing what she wants in the first place). If you just focus on one thing at a time, you may be more likely to get a response from her.
I suggest writing her an email. Most people have never talked about their sex life openly before, and doing it in person can sometimes be too overwhelming. An email can be a great way to get the conversation going. Start with something like this: “I’ve tried to talk to you about our sex life before, but it feels like you haven’t been as open to it as I was hoping. Our sex life is really important to me because it’s a way for me to physically express the love I have for you. [Or share another personal reason why your sex life is important to you.] I know that it’s normal for us to each have different relationships with sex, but I want to know that our sex life is important to you too. I’d like us to both put effort into creating a sex life that feels like a partnership between us. I don’t need to talk about any of the details now; I just want to know that you’re willing to at least try communicating about our sex life. Do you think you could do that?”
From there, see if you can have a conversation about the things you love about your sex life. (This could be done over email too if she needs more time to get comfortable.) Ask her to share her two or three favorite sexual memories with you, and share yours with her. This helps get across the message that talking about your sex life doesn’t need to mean talking about all of the things that are wrong with your sex life. Talking about your sex life can be fun, too.