Healing Barriers to Intimacy: Sexual Desire Discrepancy

Healing Barriers to Intimacy: Differential Desire
by Melissa Walker, MA, LPC, R-DMT
Sexual Desire discrepancy is a common concern for couples. The differences come in various forms: One partner likes sex 3 times a week, the other is fine with once a week; one partner enjoys long sexual experiences while other is satisfied with a quickie; or one partner desires a lot of physical contact while the other can do with a once-a-day hug.Different desires can spark misunderstanding, judgment, or shame. We may not understand why our partner appears to not desire us as much as we desire them, or we may be confused and uncomfortable with the desires of our partner. This is so common because it requires open communication and self-reflection to understand each other and dispel the negative emotions which are creating a wedge between you – and communication and self-reflection are difficult to engage with when emotionally triggered and hanging out in the “reptile” (fight or flight) brain.

However, this can be an opportunity to invite your partner into your world and broaden the palette of intimacy. Each of us develops a unique sexual and intimate palette based on our experiences, family affection styles, and cultural influences. Difference is an opportunity to slow down and become curious about each other’s desires, what they mean to us, and how they make us feel. Notice judgments or assumptions that arise and share them in the spirit of learning more about each other.

Here’s an example of a productive conversation about differential desire:

Partner #1: “I wish you touched me more.”
Partner #2: “Wow, I notice that I never really think of that. I wonder why I don’t think of touch as often as you do?”
Partner #1: “Huh, I’ve never realized this, but I don’t even think about touching you, it just comes naturally to me.”
Partner #2: How about next time you want physical contact, you let me know, that way I can learn more about your desires and learn to touch more?”
Partner #1: “Deal! …how about now?”

Practicing curiosity, openness, and present-centered focus during this exchange is important! Contact me to initiate the process of learning about these important relationship skills.

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