SWOON: Don't You Want Me Baby? Mismatched Desire in Couples

Are you ready for a life and relationship that makes you swoon?

Every Monday, join Julie Jeske and Gina Senarighi, sex therapists, pleasure specialists, and relationship coaches, as they break down what everyone needs to know about sex, relationships, intimacy, love and desire.

Whether you want fresh and honest information about sex and relationships or tools to create more fulfilling intimacy and pleasure, this podcast is going to help you connect meaningfully with yourself and your lovers.


This week:

DON’T YOU WANT ME BABY? Desire Mismatch in Couples

Join Julie Jeske and Gina Senarighi, two Portland, Oregon-based sexperts in a conversation about the most common sexual issue couples face: mismatched sexual desire.

Learn why couples face different levels of desire and take home a tool to help you connect, even when it’s not easy.

This Episode Covers:

  • The most common issue folks come to couples counseling to discuss: mismatched desire.

  • How common is it to have a different libido from your partner?

  • How desire fluctuates and changes over time and in different contexts.

  • How to navigate the brakes and gas pedals with your lover to have a more fulfilling sex life.

  • How to be more turned on by life and lit up from the inside.

  • Two excellent resources to learn more about relationships with unequal desires.

  • One tool to connect with your partner even if you have different desires.

Memorable Quotes

Julie on the way it feels to have mismatched desires in a relationship:

“This comes up in all kinds of ways, and typically somebody feels bad about where their level of desire is. Sometimes it’s the person who wants to try a bunch of things, they might feel shame around it- ‘Why can’t I just accept what I already have?’ and sometimes if someone is experiencing a lower level of desire in terms of frequency or wanting any sex in general they feel bad like there’s something wrong with them.”

Gina on the impact of mismatched desire in relationships:

“Either we take it personally, either the low or higher desire partner or both take it personally, ‘I’m broken’ or there’s something ‘broken’ about us or our relationship because our whole cultural narrative about shared desire tells us over and over that if your relationship is healthy you should intuitively read your partner wants without speaking out loud and naturally flow into a bedroom and want the exact things and the exact same time, climax together and desire it again at the same frequency on a regular basis. 

And if not, our whole culture tells us there’s something wrong with your relationship. But the truth is mismatched desire is actually much more the norm.“

“The quality of your relationship can’t be judged on the levels of desire you share.“

On the goals of sex therapy for couples with mismatched desire:

“ 'Sex is easy. Sex is natural. It should be spontaneous. I don’t want to talk about it, that ruins the vibe.' There are all these ideas in our brains about what we think it’s supposed to be and then we try to measure our actual experience to a fantasy and then we feel horrible.”

“Sex is easy, sex is natural is the goal of every couple who comes into couples work. The truth is it doesn’t align all that often for folks BUT it can be easier, we can make talking about it feel much more natural. And as much as we’re saying it’s very very common to have it not line up with your partner every time, there are lots of things we can do to make it feel easier and more natural with your partner.”

Resources Shared in This Episode

Emily Nagoski, TED Talk: The Keys to a Happier, Healthier Sex Life

Emily Nagoski, Come As You Are (Book, Kindle, and Audiobook)

Action Step

Create a Desire Diary

Track the things you desire. Not only strong or big desire, also hints of desire or the moments when you feel a little piqued interest or craving.

  • Track the moments when you feel sexy and confident or embodied.

  • What do you notice?

  • Do you see any patterns? Be curious about your desire.


Every Monday, join Julie Jeske and Gina Senarighi, sex therapists, pleasure specialists, and relationship coaches, as they break down what everyone needs to know about sex, relationships, intimacy, love and desire. 

Join us and leave your review on any of your favorite podcast channels: