Mismatched Libidos

By Kendra Holliday | May 28, 2015

Dear Kendra,

I’m really at a cross roads in my marriage due to mismatched libidos. My husband has a higher drive for “vanilla” stuff. I’ve told my husband about some of my kinks and he’s weirded out, even by things I consider pretty banal, like using a vibrator during sex. He’s kinda judgy about anything that isn’t penetrative sex.

I told him I wanted an open relationship but that did not go down well. I’m 29, he’s 34, we’ve been together 6 years. We never had a honeymoon period, sexually.

I’ve told him we should be doing these things while were young. If we don’t do these things with eachother they’re never going to happen.

I can picture myself in my minds eye, aged 50, frustrated and celibate.

I haven’t been vague in communicating what I want. Anyway the sorts of fantasies I’ve shared are forced orgasms, anal, etc. I mostly get off on an exchange of power.

My husband has said all my fantasies seem to revolve around things being done to me and they have the hallmark of someone who has spent a lot of time alone, in their head and they’re not healthy. I honestly think I’d be more up for “regular” sex if I felt my desires were respected or treated with some kind of curiosity. At present we have sex about once a month when I can manage to work myself up with my fantasies.

I do love my husband. We’re great friends and we have so much in common. But this is my number one frustration. The ridiculous part is my husband resents that I’m not ready and willing to fuck more than once a month. It’s not for a lack of drive, I’m just bored shitless!

What would you do if you were me?

Here is my reply:

Your situation is VERY common.

Mismatched libido is one of the trickiest topics! I touched upon it in this post on settling.

There are no easy answers, but one thing I always say that is NOT an option is stagnating and settling. Something HAS to change.

I just posted a pic of my summer reading list – see the title in the middle of the pile?

Great titles on great topics!

Great titles on great topics!

You might want to check some of these out.

Also, check out Dan Savage’s podcast, he covers this topic all the time.

I’m sorry to say, but it’s not going to get better. Your best bet if you hope to stay together is for him to get used to the idea of being open so you can get your needs met. Your turn ons are PERFECTLY HEALTHY and fine!

Do not sentence yourself to a life of doomed sex!! You both are holding each other back – you both are suffering and not having your physical and emotional needs met.

When communicating with your partner about difficult topics, try and remain calm and respectful. Reid Mihalko has a great formula for communication.

I’ve been in your situation – I was monogamous married to a vanilla man all through my 20’s. It was boring. I asked for an open marriage and he said he didn’t care, so I went out and started sleeping with other people (he didn’t think I would), and when he found out (I didn’t hide it), he totally freaked out. By then, I was done and wanted out of the marriage and we had a bitter breakup.

I wish I had done it differently.

But I am SO glad I took charge of my life and have had amazing sex adventures the past 12 years!!!

And I’m glad to say that we are on good terms now.

I’m sorry you’re in this situation. I know how difficult it is. It’s hard to imagine rocking the boat and facing the scary unknown. But I am here to tell you that it is a worthwhile journey.

To Your Happiness,



AlanK 2015-05-28 16:50:01

This is honest accurate advice, but it is not really USEFUL advice. As you say, Dan discusses most of this in detail, but Dan is a gay man. What is needed–and what I have never seen–is practical advice from a heterosexual woman about how to introduce the subject of openness with her partner. Give us a possible dialogue; give us some sensible arguments; help us actually do what you know must be done. Between just sucking it up and setting an ultimatum (“we are allowed to have sex with others AND you have to be happy with that option”) there must be some middle way.


    Kendra Holliday 2015-05-28 17:48:34

    I see what you are saying – this is just the tip of the iceberg. You read this post and agree, but still feel stuck. If you want something to change, you would HAVE to face your fears – either changing your situation, or bringing up extremely difficult conversations with your partner. Note the plural in the word “conversations.” It takes time and patience to break down a wall of years of societal programming and monogamy. Most people are very possessive when it comes to their partner’s bodies, minds, and souls. They get viscerally sick thinking about them with other people. Religion is often a huge obstacle.

    Here is the possible dialogue formula:

    Each situation is case-by-case, and I’d need to know the details and work through them with you via consults http://beopenandhonest.com/

    You can’t argue about this – that would a waste of time and energy – it is emotion packed. You can only plant seeds and have a series of conversations. There are so many books to recommend that spell out rational reasoning and relationship styles – Sex at Dawn, The Ethical Slut, Opening Up, More Than Two…

    I don’t think the person’s sexual orientation should matter when it comes to giving practical relationship advice – I am bisexual.

    There IS a middle way of handling this situation – utilize sex work or find some other discreet, safe outlet. Thousands of men do this. After weighing the pros and cons, it is what they decide is their best option. I am accepting of that decision, but it does not allow them to self-actualize and fully integrate their life, which should be everyone’s ultimate goal.


bimotarich 2015-05-29 03:23:29

Another related issue is changing libidos…as the late great BB King once sang, the thrill is gone… many relationships see one or the other partners libidos or sexual tastes change over time… and sometimes this can lead to serious problems… here in Japan I have noticed that many women’s libidos seem very healthy and varied right up until they become a mother… then all desire disappears until the children grow up and leave home (which increasingly does not happen due to a crap economy)… all sense of sexual desire and adventure disappears… on the plus side Japan has a huge variety of “professional” outlets (which wives often encourage husbands to use)… but on the down side it often leads to a malaise in the relationship (not to mention these services are not cheap)… these are difficult waters to traverse… and communication is NOT a cultural strong point here… as you are expected to read each others minds rather than talk… luckily for me my current partner is not typical (hence my love for her)… while we have had to deal with the plunge of libido after baby… we DO talk about it… and things are slowly getting better… face your fears but also feel your partners reality as best you can… talk it through with patience and love… making demands is unlikely to make a stronger relationship… HOW you talk about a topic is often more important that WHAT you talk about… do it with respect and love… stay focused on working together… be patient… stand strong but stay calm…


Mildred 2015-06-26 23:32:57

1-month update. I’m the mis-matched libido.

We split!

And… I’m really happy about that.
I’ve taken a vow of celibacy for 1 year to sort myself out and really work out what I want out of life and what I’m looking for.


    Kendra Holliday 2015-06-27 09:06:43

    I’m glad to hear about the former, wondering about the latter. I can’t wait to hear what you want and are looking for! Definitely something creative, challenging, and not boring!


      Mildred 2015-06-27 22:35:56

      Kendra, seriously you have no idea!
      I’m not a girl any more and that’s GREAT. I’m a grown up lady and I can put my big girl pants on. Being married isn’t compulsory. Everyone I’ve told about the separation keeps trying to console me. I mean, it is sad but more than anything I feel this great relief and optimism for my new life.
      I’m just not a conservative person – the strait jacket didn’t fit. Still love him deeply, still respect him as a person.
      It’s funny that now that I’ve been alone for a bit over a month my libido is through the roof. As if a blockage passed. As I said I’ve taken a vow of celibacy but to me this time is all about loving myself.
      Thanks Kendra – I was happy that your response wasn’t like ‘he’s right, you’re being selfish’
      Also typing everything out in black and white gave me the opportunity to be like ‘oh, wow this isn’t working – something has to give.’


        Kendra Holliday 2015-06-28 08:02:05

        I am so proud of you for being so brave and doing what’s right for YOU. Some people think the word “selfish” has negative connotations, but not me!


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