Combatting Common Desire Discrepancy and Kick-Starting Desire published | 22 February Let’s kick it up a notch and talk about desire this week! Has sex become a chore for you? Do you and your partner constantly have disagreements about the frequency of your encounters? Is your partner seemingly disinterested in sex? Are you and your partner never in the mood for sex at the same time? Reality is, we’re not in a romantic film or fairy tale TV show. Partners don’t always remain passionate for one another at the same time throughout their entire relationship. We call this “desire discrepancy” and it’s incredibly common to experience some level of this in relationships of any length. It doesn’t mean you don’t love one another, it doesn’t mean your sex life is awful, and it certainly doesn’t mean the end of a relationship. However, according to sex and relationship therapist Barry McCarthy, “When sex in a relationship goes well, it takes up 15%, but when it’s a problem, it takes up to 75%, therefore, it is important to address low desire or desire discrepancy.” So listen up — don’t panic. I’ve put together my top ten tips that will help you to manage your current predicament and guide you to improve your experience and avoid any arguments. This will lead to a healthier and happier sex life! You’re welcome! Kelly McDonnell-Arnold · TGISF #3: Kick-Starting Desire Kelly’s Top 10 Tips for Kick-Starting Desire Tip #1: Avoid the blame game. If you are experiencing some level of desire discrepancy, you need to refrain from trying to force your partner to see the situation from your perspective or alternatively, trying to coerce them into changing their mind. Tip #2: Always communicate. The key to changing this situation, like many others, is to try and understand your partner’s point of view. Practice empathy when you’re trying to gain understanding of their overall levels of desire and how they are different from yours. Being curious about why they feel the way they do is healthy and opening up to your partner will help. If a more consistent type of desire discrepancy is on the way, move further into talking about your unfulfilled needs as a couple. Here, I’m asking you to think about positions, massages, non-sexual intimate contact, emotional intimacy or simple, quality alone time away from the bedroom altogether. Tip #3: Move away from the bedroom. I’m not talking about sex on the couch or in the car here. Go and try something new as a couple. It doesn’t have to be romantic or sexual — just something different and fun that will remind you of all of the things you both enjoy doing together. This surely will increase that all-important, passion-inducing dopamine. Rock climbing, a cooking class, a yoga session, dancing — whatever the activity, find something you can do as a pair and that will go a long way towards improving your sexual experiences when you eventually get back to the bedroom. Tip #4: The art of seduction. It’s so important to seduce one another, both inside and outside of the bedroom. Take things slow and warm each other up properly. Expand your view on intimacy. Massage your partner; cuddle up to them on the couch. A good step is realizing that other simple things (besides sex) can be sensual and pleasurable. This will improve your levels of intimacy with one another, and hey, sometimes these small acts can even lead to sex. Tip #5: Educate yourself and your partner. Taking time to learn about sex, sexuality, and your sexual response cycle is crucial. Remember, knowledge is power so be sure to feed your sexual intelligence. Tip #6: Self-pleasure! Sure, at face value, it may be a singular activity but why not consider inviting and actively encouraging masturbation into your sex life? For many couples, doing so serves as a “valve” that equalizes sexual pressure between partners with different sex drives, allowing the partner with a higher libido to relieve some of their sexual needs. Watch and learn from your partner as they explore and embrace their own body and learn what physically feels good and how to experience pleasure. Once this has been unlocked, and pleasure has been invited back into the arena, desire will flow more naturally and easily. Tip #7: Develop your own brand of sexuality. Spend some quality time putting together a list of conditions that will cultivate good sex and that relate to what you find personally seductive. Your list could include: Do you like the lights on or maybe dimmed? Is sex better right after the shower? What time of day do you feel sexy? Figure out your list and your partners and meet in the middle. Tip #8: Quality over quantity — focus on having BETTER sex, not just more of it. A lot of couples get into a sexual routine or rut, which makes it easy to get bored and eventually, reduces overall desire. Shake it up and get creative! Sometimes, however, it might just come down to something as simple as making eye contact during intercourse. Focus on eroticism, sensuality, and on pleasure sharing. Tip #9: Sometimes, all you need is a little space. The old adage, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” does apply to desire discrepancy in a similar way. Think about it this way — desire, like a flame, requires some air to really breathe. Sometimes, taking some space mentally to get re-engaged with yourself, your wants and desires, will help you both to get your head back into the game and bring you together again sexually. Tip #10: Mindful pleasure. Wherever you are right now, think about something pleasurable, not just sexual. For example, next time you’re in the shower, take a moment to enjoy the water dancing onto your skin, or really sit back and enjoy the pleasurable experience of your first sip of coffee. Whatever it is, dedicate more of your time to enjoying pleasurable moments. Treat yourself well, take care of your overall health/wellness and invite pleasure into your daily life. Remember: while desire discrepancy is common and normal, it doesn’t and shouldn’t be a permanent problem within your relationship. Make it a priority; take charge and kick-start your desire today. KELLY MCDONNELL-ARNOLD, MA, RSW, MBA Certified Sexologist | Owner of Bliss Counselling | Co-Founder Sexology International Kelly is passionate about providing ‘sex-positive,’ fresh, and reliable sexology information in all its complexity (but in a simple-to-understand message), empowering others to explore and own their sexuality. She’s the down to earth, whip-smart professional who takes her work seriously, but never herself. Subscribe to her SoundCloud, check out her sexuality series ‘Sex Talk with Kelly’ on Rogers TV, or follow her on Twitter for the latest!