Sexual Desire Mismatch in Relationships

sexual desire in relationships | desire mismatch

Mismatched desire might be the most common issue I see in my couples work.   Estimates show nearly a third of all couples have issues with sex drives that are out of sync.  So many couples I see have been working through sex drive mismatch for years.

While this is extremely common most of us worry this means something more is wrong with our relationship.  Often desire mismatch creates a rift in relationships due to the resulting emotions we experience. 

Typically a higher desire partner feels rejected and experiences guilt, shame, resentment, bitterness, and anger.  They might feel inadequate and insecure and these feelings can spill over into many other areas of the relationship- creating distance and conflict.

Frequently the lower desire partner feels extreme pressure (even if not intended by their partner) to increase their desire.  They feel similar emotions (shame, guilt, anxiety, resentment, or bitterness) and often express these by distancing from (their partner and/or sex)- only reinforcing the initial sexual disconnect.

These feelings are enhanced by our media culture’s (often completely misguided) advice columns on how to please your spouse.  Often this advice feels inauthentic and is completely unsustainable.  When couples get stuck trying this ill-informed advice it can lead them to feel even more hopeless and stuck.

When I work with couples with significant disconnect the solution starts from a pretty non-sexual place.  We really need to focus on understanding, acceptance, and connection without focusing completely on sex. 

This is also where my holistic training is especially helpful.  Sexuality is a fluid and changing part of ourselves.  Our sex drive is no different.  It waxes and wanes through our life and throughout the day depending on our stress, physical health, addiction, connection, confidence, self-connection, trust, and conflict (among other factors). 

When we look at these sort of environmental factors impacting our sex lives, often there are structural changes we can make to create a more supportive environment for sexual connection, affection, and sex. 

Once we have a baseline of mutual understanding, acceptance, and connection and an environment that supports healthy sexuality most of the couples I work with start to see shifts in sexual connection between them without a lot of work or effort. 

Even if the frequency of sex doesn’t change my couples describe greater satisfaction with their connection and less pressure, stress, and conflict around sex (and life in general).

If you’d like to get together to talk about sexual desire mismatch in your relationship I’m happy to support you.  Give me a call for a free consultation.  Let’s talk. 


Gina Senarighi | Polyamory Counseling | Desire Mismatch

Gina Senarighi offers non-judgmental sex-positive, gender-affirming, LGBTQ relationship support online and in the Pacific Northwest. 

She often says, “I love love, in all its forms!”

She’s helped thousands of couples deepen their sexual connection, repair trust, and build sustainable lasting partnerships.

She uses her multi-disciplinary professional training to teach communication skills and help her clients handle conflict with compassion.

Gina has supported many couples experimenting with open relationships based in trust and integrity. If you’re considering polyamory you should check out her online resources here.

Although most of her couples are experimenting with less traditional relationship structures, even her more mainstream clients appreciate her open-minded non-judgmental approach and diverse expertise.

If you’re interested in taking this work further contact her for a free consultation.