sexual compatibility

“Sex, Dear?” Yes, Please! When Desire Levels Don’t Match

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I’m not here to tell anyone that I have sex all figured out. I am here to explore my own lessons, my own challenges, and my own approach to finding a sexual balance in an intimate relationship.

I want more sex, she’s happy with once a month. She want more sex, I have conditions of satisfaction before I want to get started. She’s unhappy with our sexual frequency. He’s always pestering me for sex, it’s exhausting saying “no” all the time.

Sexual Awakening Takes Time

When we’re young sex is about fun, about cutting loose, getting high, being spontaneous. Men under-30 have constant erections and testosterone levels at their peak. Any available female is a home for my desire. Men over 40 have to start managing sex a bit more. We’re afraid of limp dicks, premature ejac, and how big our bellies have gotten. Women over 40 may just be arriving at their sexual liberation, they want it all, and they’re okay with lubricants, toys, porn, and anything to get the engines started. And as we get older, sex has to be transformed a bit, if we’re to stay monogamous and happy. Sex is different for both men and women. Sexual fulfillment often has similar characteristics for men and women.

Sexual Fulfillment Checklist:

  • confident
  • relaxed (less or zero anxiety)
  • felt, touched, listened to (aligning our sex within a present moment feedback loop_
  • “I’m so hot for her, I’m so hot for her, I’m so hot for her and she’s so cold.”
  • sexy feelings build more sexy feelings
  • wholistic love (embraced emotionally, physically, and spiritually)
  • playful attitude on both sides of the bed (define fun, define new ideas, define a mutual goal)
  • time spent in intimate interactions (discussing, flirting, teasing, desiring, expressing desire for your partner)
  • sex time is about connecting, orgasms are a secondary goal

Getting Good at Self-fulfillment

In sex, each of us has the responsibility to get our hearts, heads, and minds in place for our own happiness. This is the same as the challenges in the rest of our relationship. Our approach is 100% up to us. If the orgasm is the ultimate measure of satisfaction, that eliminates a lot of great sex that can happen without an orgasm. Is a sensual massage considered sex? Is exploring your partner’s fantasies online considered sex? Is time alone with a toy or porn considered sex? Am I having sex when I’m pleasuring myself? Am I being unfaithful to my partner when I masturbate?

When two adults are having sex, it’s good to have a mutual goal.

As we get beyond our 20s and 30s our bodies, hormones, and needs begin to change. Our penises are not immediately hard and available at the flash or a boob or the expressed desire of our partner. Our definitions of what feels good are evolving. As adults, we should be excited to hear about and explore the desires and fantasies of our partners. And sex should be about heat, love, and playfulness. If there are psychological reasons getting in the way of your sexual fun, it is important to talk through them with someone other than your partner.

If your partner has said something in the past that still gives you anxiety about sex, you should let them know how you feel. And then, you have to take the responsibility to deconstruct your own anxiety and trauma that allows this past event to dampen or shut down your current experience. If you were told sex was bad, or you were bad at sex, you might need some help refinding your own balance around sex. If the idea of sex, or the discussion of sex, gives you anxiety, guess what? You’re bringing anxiety into the bedroom. Anxiety is the enemy of intimacy, pleasure, and fulfillment.

How Do We Talk About Sex?

There is no easy answer when trying to co-create a healthy sexual experience. It’s not ONE PERSON’S problem. If I don’t want to have sex as much as my girlfriend, it’s not her problem, it’s often not an issue of mismatched levels of desire, it’s a “we” problem. Both partners are carrying something into the bedroom that needs to be discussed, diffused, and worked out. The unexplored anxiety in the sexual experience only creates more anxiety. And one bad experience with someone who is unwilling to do their own work could spell the end of a relationship. Sex is important to get right. The ghosts you bring into the bedroom are going to hurt you and your partner as you are fighting with imaginary or misunderstood problems.

Let’s say, I want to have sex all the time. I try and build a sexy connection with my partner in the morning. I give them some love texts during the day. And when they return home from work the first words out of their mouth is, “I’m exhausted. Work was really hard.” I can tell you, it might be the expressed exhaustion and a fear of disappointing you that leads to some unhealthy expectations. If I expect my partner to come home for a full day of work and immediately turn on the sexy voice, the sexy body, and the sexual arousal that will provide the sexy lubrication for our sexy time, well, I’m going to give you a hint: both of you are going to be disappointed. Both of you are part of the problem.

My part of the puzzle is my expectation that YOU are going to meet all of my sexual urges and needs. [Did you know medicine recommends adult males ejaculate 21 times a month to keep their prostate healthy?] I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that demanding sex 5 or more times a week would be a bit of an unreal expectation. Still, that desire, that need, that scientific rationale is there. We, men, need to be having more orgasms according to science. If we’re dependent and then disappointed by our partner’s ability to perform at such a high rate, well, that could present an issue that needs work.

Let’s say her part of the puzzle is energy, exhaustion, and frustration at the unrealistic demands of a partner that wants to have sex all the time. Women can begin to feel trapped when every sensual and sexy touch or flirt from their partners is a veiled request to have sex. If your partner wants to go out on Friday night, dance for hours, and come home to semi-buzzed sex, and you’re barely able to keep your eyes open past 8:30, well, there’s a discrepancy. There’s a miss-match here, but it’s not just a misalignment of desire. There’s more going on here.

Finding the Core of Desire

What I’ve learned over the course of my relationships with two wives and a handful of long-term relationship attempts is this: Desire is also an inside job. I am the owner of my sexual desire. I am also responsible for my sexual availability (not always over-scheduled or exhausted). I am responsible for my sexual pleasure as well. I need to know all the ways I get turned on. And in the course of my life so far, the best partner I’ve ever had and am ever going to have, is with myself. If you or your partner don’t understand self-love and self-pleasure, it’s going to be harder for our partners to please us.

If I am *always* waiting for my wife to initiate sex but I’m feeling overwhelmed by the lack of closeness in our relationship that could be more about the relationship than the sex. If sex and the idea of sex produces anxiety or fear, it’s important that you clear those ghosts out, and the best partner in the world IS NOT YOUR COUNSELOR.

Take the desire, the sex, and the dependence we have on each other to be a 50/50 split, and you begin to see that it’s not an either-or problem. The man who desires more sex and the woman who is still a bit frightened by sex both have individual growth paths that can heal and warm their sexual partnership. It’s not HIS problem for wanting more sex, it’s not HER problem that she’s rarely got the energy or motivation for sex. And just doing the same old routine, song and dance, call and answer, is not going to find repair just in a continual effort to “have more sex.”

Sex is the culmination of closeness and intimacy. Sex is not how you fill up old hurts. Sex is not how you control or manipulate a partner. Sex is a mystery. And each of us brings a sexual story, a sexual dysfunction, a sexual fire into each relationship. Regardless of your current “level of desire” the heat in a relationship, the deep healthy heat, starts long before the bedsheets get ruffled. Seek out what’s hard in the bedroom for you and go find a counselor to talk to, you’re partner IS the trigger and therefore not the person who can talk/kiss/fk you out of it.

Sex is a two-way street. Each of us is responsible for how and when we show up for sex. We are responsible for our own sexual mindset, and as we get older we learn that sex is sleeping together, sex is binge-watching a show arm-in-arm, sex is listening to your partner’s day, sex is remaining available even in the face of disappointments. The woman who is “disappointing her man” by not wanting sex all the time. The man who feels he is disappointing his partner because he can’t provide enough comfort, money, or housecleaning support to release his partner’s anxiety.

Here’s the truth: I can’t make you happier. I can’t give you energy at the end of your work week or workday. I can’t feel sensual when the feedback from you is “tired, overwhelmed, frustrated.” I can’t change your life for you. And, if I’m staying in my lane, I can’t really give you advice about your job, your energy, or your previous love lives. All we have is today, this moment, and this touch (right now) to lead us forward. We’ve both got to be in space of openness, curiosity, and hope. It’s in the hope and fun that sex becomes exponentially better. Tired, overwhelmed, or anxious sex is not good for either of us.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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