“I’m in my early 40s, and find that I want more sex than my partner. Some of my friends say their relationships are the same. What is going on here—am I normal?”
Dale Curd answers:
The quick answer is no, there is nothing wrong with you. Your well-being is not affected by a difference between you and your partner and your sex drives. And while I’m on the subject, there is also nothing wrong with your man. You don’t mention whether your man is affected by any physical symptoms that may be impacting his libido—which affect one out of five men on average—and you also don’t mention whether the frequency of sex you’re having now is different from when you were first together, which also would be normal.
So, if I rule out physiological causes and normal relationship development I can tell you that men stop having sex because of what they are thinking. And a man’s thoughts about not having sex fall into three primary categories:
Men often avoid sex to prevent themselves from being emotionally intimate because doing so will force up some feelings they don’t want to deal with. In our society men are not conditioned to know how to process strong emotion so they tend to either bottle up, or blow up. If your man is dealing with something he doesn’t want to feel he may be avoiding intimacy with you.
Yes, men withhold sex because they’re angry; more specifically, because they are holding on to resentments or judgements, including self-judgement. Men typically don’t talk about these resentments or self-judgements but over time, they accumulate and can act as a barrier to sex for a man who is holding them inside.
Many men are floating through life in a state of melancholy, unwilling to passionately engage with anything or anyone. These men are grieving a major transition in their lives and are blocked in a feeling they don’t want to feel because it is painful for them. So they resist feeling it and as a result become disconnected from feeling any emotion fully. Ambivalence can also occur in a man who is emotionally spent. I see a few men in my practice who because of work insecurity, financial instability and relationship pressure are emotionally and energetically “tired,” and therefore uninterested in sex.
So, what can you do about what your man is experiencing? As with women, a man’s greatest sex organ is his mind. Seduce him with understanding and you will ignite his libido. Listen to your man for what is ailing him and reaffirm his masculinity by letting him know that you believe he is strong enough to sort through any blocks in his way. Lubricate his resistance with empathy. Share with him the times when you have not been interested in sex. Let him know it happens frequently for many people. Understanding and empathy will dissolve his blocks and he will share and see that what awaits him when he shares is deep love—and more sex.
Dale Curd is a counselor and a leading authorities on men’s issues. He works in private practice in Toronto and speaks internationally on men and the male perspective.
Cheryl Fraser answers:
There was a time when a woman with a robust libido might be given a “nymphomania” diagnosis—hmm, notice that there is no such insulting label for sexually charged men?—but luckily, we’ve moved out of the Dark Ages. So, congratulations: You’re in a significant minority of women who are more sexually motivated (read “hornier”) than their partner.
Female sexuality is strongly influenced by psychological desire; that is, great sex is all in our heads. In my private practice, women tell me all the time that before they can jump their partner, there has to be a perfect love-storm: They need to have had a good day at work, feel happy and relaxed, and, most of all, be in a good, conflict-free sweet spot with their lover. Men, by contrast, generally become physically aroused without being impacted so much by that thing called reality; they don’t need mental desire. Lucky them.
Some women in their 40s enjoy newly liberated sexual energy. At this stage of life they often discover they can get out of their head, and allow physical arousal to jump-start their sex drive without letting mental desire run the show. Feeling wiser, more confident and sexier quiets the worries that can form roadblocks to sexuality. And when this happens—look out. These women don’t wait to get in the mood, they simply take action (and therefore get a lot of action!).
So not only is there nothing wrong with you, your strong libido indicates that you are healthy and have enough life balance to allow your sexual arousal to be freed from the stress of your everyday life.
And despite the myths, most men are not sex machines. In many cases a man may be a little intimidated if his lover starts taking the initiative and telling him she wants it, and she wants it now. Your guy may be uncomfortable playing the role of the seducee, rather than the seducer, and he may need some warming up. I tell my female patients to flirt with their partner throughout the day to help him build his anticipation. Send him an erotic email or text, and let him know you can’t wait for him to get home so you can ravish him. Then surprise him in bed (on the couch, on the kitchen floor…) by trying something that isn’t part of your typical “nipple, nipple, crotch, goodnight” routine. Pretty soon, he’ll think it was his idea, and a darn fine one at that.
Cheryl Fraser, PhD, is a psychologist and sex therapist who lives in Duncan, B.C. She teaches a couples’ workshop, the Awakened Lover Weekend.
Web exclusive September 2009 Best Health magazine