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The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student


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Pillowtalk – What if my partner and I have different sex drives?


Hi Pillowtalk,

How would you deal with a being with a long term partner with a very different sex drive than you?

Hello! I’m glad to offer advice, but I’m afraid it probably won’t be how I personally would handle something like this. As a polyamorous, married man, I know quite well that one partner can’t satisfy all my needs (or wants) in a relationship. I’m lucky that I have a pretty clear way of handling this in my relationships (find someone else to fulfill that extra drive), but there are certainly options for monogamous couples, too.

First, I do want to address the “open relationship” solution. Yes, it is an intuitive way to satiate one person’s sex drive when the other cannot. However, it’s a solution that can only work if both partners are committed to uncomfortably explicit communication sustained constantly over a long period of time. That is, you can’t just talk about it once and expect it to self-sustain.

Keeping an otherwise monogamous relationship open to exclusively casual sexual encounters brings in a myriad of other conflicts. What if you catch feelings? What if there’s one friend-with-benefits who suddenly takes up a lot of the other’s time? What if the partner who has less of a sex drive gets jealous and internalizes their lower sex drive as a flaw to be punished? You will have hard conversations. You will have doubts. You may struggle with your new identity in the relationship. You must be ready for this.

I’m not dismissing the idea of having sex with other people. However, do not default to this solution unless you are both excited about it, clear on your boundaries, and are already really good at understanding and communicating your needs with your partner. You are probably not as good at communication as you think you are, and that will be exacerbated by non-monogamy. If you’re going to try this, do your homework together! Listen to podcasts. Read books. Follow non-monogamous creators and educators and engage with their content. Get a workbook to go through together. This is a big decision for your relationship patterns, treat it like one.

There is a weird middle ground, too, where you’re allowed to engage with others sexually online via sexting, sending nudes, broadcasting a cam, etcetera. This is non-monogamy, and requires those same conversations, but online there’s a little less actual physical intimacy, and it’s easier to draw the line for some monogamous people. 

Some people find that using their “extra” sex drive to make sexual content online for profit is a good option, too, but that’s another big decision to make. In the same vein, you can hire sex workers to help fulfill your sexual needs. It’s a really common way to get a little action with no strings attached, as long as you have the funds to pay your providers. If you’re normally in a larger urban area, kink clubs can also be a great way to release sexual energy in a controlled atmosphere with other people who are there for the same reasons.

Another option is for the person with the higher sex drive to state their desires without other people in general. Maybe this means investing in some fun toys and making masturbation more of a central part of your routine. Maybe it means taking sexy videos or pictures with your partner to recall or watch when you’re masturbating alone later. Or maybe it’s time for you to expand your sexual horizons and find new ways of playing with your sex drive and finding new kinks.

Regardless of the way you and your partner decide to resolve this, your wellbeing is key. This will probably be an uncomfortable process of figuring out what works for you, and if you refuse to sit in that discomfort, you will not grow past this. Sex is a big deal for a lot of people, and sexual satisfaction is a wonderful thing, but relationships offer much more than just sex. Be brave with this, and know that starting early with these conversations and conflicts will make you better at this process in the future. 

As always, good luck, and remember to use lube!

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