This post was written in order to provide comments to a online journal. As such, they asked for cis-female, heterosexual specific content. This information would change a bit for queer and non-binary folks, but there's still some bits that could be helpful for those of you :)
So why doesn’t my female partner want sex as much as me? How can I encourage more interest? I get this question a lot in my sex therapy practice. The answer however is unfortunately not as easy as a magic pill or certain spot to touch on her body. Instead, you must seek to understand not just how women work, but how your specific partner works. How she gets turned on what helps her get off is unique and includes variables like genetics, genital structure, arousal history, awareness of her own body’s responses, and past relationship history. But if we were to generalize based on gender, there are a few things that we know based on research.
According to research, Men masturbate more especially at young ages, and can detach sex from relationships, but as they age this can shift and they seek relationships as well as sexual connection. Men have an easier time understanding when they are aroused, hello erection, and tend to maintain the same sexual arousal patterns throughout their lifetime. Men are more visually aroused and have a generally consistent response including arousal, sexual stimulation, climax and then relaxation (masters and Johnson cycle). Finally, men tend to seek variety in sexual partners more often.
On the flip side, women’s first sexual feelings are usually connected to a relationship instead of masturbation, and their internal genitals make it harder to identify when aroused. Women also tend to have more flexible sexual arousal patterns and orientation over time, meaning the things that get them hot change and can include different genders or sexual expressions. Finally, women’s sexual response cycle is more complex and may require more emotional intimacy, relationship happiness, as well as sexual stimulation to build arousal. So while men have more spontaneous sexual feelings, women’s are highly linked to other factors like physical stimulation, feelings of closeness, or sexual fantasies and thoughts.
What does this mean for you?! So men, this means A) that the work you put in to make your relationship a success, can also help increase your partner’s sexual desire. And B) you may have to do a bit of work to turn your partner on, versus waiting for her spontaneous desire to have sex. According Dr. Sari Van Anders’ research, female sexual desire can be made up of eight factors: intimacy, eroticism, stress relief/ relaxation, partner focus, sexual self esteem, thrill seeking, fantasy experience, and power/ control. So having a conversation with your partner can be really instructive in understanding what are some of the factors that motivate their desire. Tap into those needs and ask ways in which you can assist in creating a situation where she can satisfy that facet of desire. Some things to try:
Out of the bedroom:
Genuinely compliment, praise and support your partner’s accomplishments, strengths and skills on a regular basis. When she feels good about herself, she can more easily tap into the vulnerability required in sex.
Resolve conflict with your partner regularly, and effectively. Listen, validate feelings, and The more positive emotions, and communication patterns in the relationship, the more you become a safe place for letting go, connecting and exploring sexually.
Help reduce stress! Stress is one of the primary killers or arousal in women. Help her out with something that is stressing her out, ask ways you can assist and follow through.
In the bedroom:
Increase your use of fantasy. Talk with your partner about her fantasies, without pressure to act on those fantasies. They are fodder, arousal stimulation not necessarily a thing she wants to try. With her permission, build on those fantasies to create sexual interactions that may be related or share those fantasies while in intimate moments.
Expand your definition of foreplay. Sometimes women need to be touched BEFORE they become aroused. You can’t just stick it in though and hope she gets there. Hands are the most underrated tools in the bedroom. Use your fingers, get them wet with saliva or lube, and explore, ask questions, notice reactions and keep doing the things she responds well to. 10 minutes of quality hand stimulation can dramatically increase lubrication, blood flow to the female genitalia, and likelihood of female orgasm in many individuals. (https://thissexylife.com/2016/08/21/10reasonstohavehandsex/ )
Ultimately, these ideas are generalizations that won’t work for every partner or every body. The most important skill you must have in increasing your parent’s sexual desire is communication. Share wants and needs, hearing her thoughts and feelings, and seek to understand her body and arousal patterns. If you’re wanting sex more often, talk with her about it without expectation. Your partner is not responsible for your sexual pleasure. It’s a bonus if she decides to join you, to share her pleasure and connection with you. See sex together as a gift, one that you hope to receive and one that will also be as satisfying for her as it is for you. This can only happen when you understand the complexities of her desire, and how you can be a support for that expression.