Differing Sexual Appetites

Note: This is the second of a two-part series.

When it comes to feeling loved in an intimate relationship, we all have different requirements.  Some people feel loved when they’re wined, dined and romanced.  Other people feel loved when they can share their innermost self with your innermost self.  Still other people feel loved when they feel accepted and valued.  Many people feel loved through affection and touch.  And some people feel loved when their partner makes love to them.

When you’re in an intimate relationship with someone who receives and expresses love primarily through sex, then try as you might, the other forms of expressing love—cooking a great meal, being a good provider, keeping a great house, doing chores, raising children, fixing a leaky faucet—go largely unacknowledged.  It’s not that your partner doesn’t appreciate the many things you do, it’s that the two of you aren’t making love enough. Your partner wants to feel loved his/her way, not your way.

Unless you love someone in the way s/he wants to be loved, you aren’t really being giving and you aren’t really loving.  So says Michelle Weiner Davis in her book The Sex-Starved Marriage (Simon and Schuster).  She says, “Real giving is when you give to your spouse not what you want or need but that which your spouse wants and needs.”  She  says that you don’t have to understand why your intimate partner feels the way s/he does, and you don’t have to agree with it.  You just need to do it.  That’s what real giving in all about.  And when your lover feels given to and loved in his/her way, he or she will want to give back to you the vast majority of the time.

Many people feel hurt or rejected when their intimate partner isn’t forthcoming sexually.  And when people feel hurt and rejected, they often get angry and quit giving.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that power struggles, withholding affection, passive-aggressive behavior, distance and anger are likely to follow.

The person with the higher appetite is likely to feel that his/hr feelings are being dismissed, especially so if the partner with the lower desire refuses to address the problem and refuses t work out reasonable solutions and compromises.   If you are the partner with the higher libido, you may feel completely justified in feeling rejected, hurt and angry.  But if you allow those feelings to get the better of you, you are likely to push your lover away even more, because anger, criticism, hostility and resentment are unlikely to make your intimate partner want to make love with you at all.

Davis advises that you take stock of your behavior.  Have you been highly critical, angry, mean-spirited or bossy because of your paltry sex life?  Have you shut down emotionally and pulled away from your partner?  Have you constructed a wall around you to protect you from feeling rejected?  Are you tempted to stray in order to find greater sexual pleasure?   If you answered “yes” any of the above questions, note that those behaviors haven’t gotten you very far up to now.

I will discuss solutions to different sexual appetites in a future column.

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