How the 'sexual desire discrepancy' between men and women can take its toll on relationships

Levels of mutual attraction fluctuate over the course of relationships

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Once the honeymoon days are over, it is perhaps understandable that a couple's desire for each other will not be at identically feverish levels at all times.

It is well-known that having the hots for one's partner waxes and wanes over the course of a relationship - with women generally said to have lower sex drives than men.

But new research has put this "sexual desire discrepancy" in a new light. A recent study has shown that if a woman has a higher sex drive, her relationship is not too badly affected and she remains fairly satisfied anyway.

Yet if the man in a heterosexual relationship wants more sex, he often feels much less sexually satisfied and the relationship overall can often take a dip.

The researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada and the University of Dayton in Ohio who studied "sexual desire discrepancy" in couples said the phenomenon only became a serious problem for a relationship when the man wanted much more sex.

 

Eighty-four couples rated phrases such as "I look forward to having sex with my partner" and "I daydream about sex" - with 70% experiencing some kind of mismatch in who wanted to hop into bed the most.

And of 59% of those couples, it was the man who desired more sex than the woman. In 11% it was the woman, while the rest were equal.

According to the authors: "Women who had higher desire than their partner did not differ significantly in sexual satisfaction from those who had lower desire than their partner." So even when women wanted more sex, they didn't express very high levels of dissatisfaction.

Yet men who want more sex do say they feel significantly dissatisfied. And interestingly, a woman whose partner wants more sex than she does ends up feeling sexually unhappy too - which doesn't happen as much to lower libido men.

So men appear to want sex more than women in committed heterosexual relationships. Where they do to a significant degree, both partners end up wishing things were different in the bedroom.

Yet the authors of the study, which was published in August 2015, pointed out that most people are sexually satisfied even when small discrepancies are present.

"Our findings for actual desire discrepancy suggest that variation in desire levels between partners is not necessarily a problem in the relationship," they write. "Just as partners learn to deal with differences in values, goals, and priorities in other domains of life, most couples have likely developed adaptive ways to handle desire discrepancies."

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