Bridging the Gap: Desire Discrepancy and the Role of Sex Therapy

In any intimate relationship, it’s natural for partners to have varying levels of desire for sexual intimacy. This phenomenon, known as desire discrepancy, is a common and often challenging aspect of many relationships. This blog delves into what desire discrepancy is, how to identify it, and how consulting a sex therapist can provide valuable guidance and solutions.



Understanding Desire Discrepancy



Desire discrepancy refers to the situation in which one partner has a higher or lower level of desire for sexual intimacy than another. This difference can lead to feelings of frustration, resentment, and confusion within the relationship. It’s important to recognize that desire fluctuates over time for many reasons, including stress, fatigue, and changes in physical and emotional well-being. It’s not necessarily a sign of a broken relationship but rather a common dynamic that many people may face.



Identifying Desire Discrepancy



Recognizing desire discrepancy is the first step towards addressing it. Here are some signs that you may be experiencing desire discrepancy in your relationships:



  • Frequency Mismatch: One partner desires sex more or less frequently than another, leading to a sense of imbalance.



  • Initiation Challenges: Difficulty initiating or responding to sexual advances from your partner(s) can be a telltale sign.
  • Lack of Communication: If discussions about your desires and needs often lead to tension or avoidance, it may indicate desire discrepancy.



  • Emotional Distance: Unresolved desire issues can contribute to emotional distancing between partners.



  • Resentment: Feelings of resentment or disappointment may arise due to unmet desires.



How a Sex Therapist Can Help



Addressing desire discrepancy can be complex, and seeking professional guidance can be a game-changer for couples. Here’s how a sex therapist can assist:



  • Open Communication: A sex therapist creates a safe space for open and non-judgmental communication about sexual desires and boundaries. They help people in relationships express their feelings and needs effectively.



  • Understanding the Causes: Sex therapists can identify the underlying causes of desire discrepancy, such as stress, past experiences, or physical health issues, and work on addressing them.



  • Tailored Strategies: They provide tailored strategies to enhance sexual intimacy, whether it’s through better communication, education, or specific exercises.



  • Enhancing Emotional Connection: A sex therapist can guide people in reconnecting emotionally, strengthening the bond between partners, and promoting a more satisfying sexual relationship.



  • Empowering All Partners: Sex therapy aims to empower all partners to be active participants in improving their sex life and working together to bridge the desire gap.



  • Consolidating a Plan: The therapist helps create a plan that includes compromises and strategies for achieving a more harmonious sexual connection.



Desire discrepancy is a common challenge in many relationships, but it doesn’t have to be a source of frustration or distress. Seeking help from a sex therapist can provide valuable insights, strategies, and support for those looking to bridge the gap and create a more fulfilling and satisfying sexual connection. It’s a step towards nurturing a healthier, happier relationship built on trust, communication, and mutual understanding.






Jess Wackes

Learn more about the author >>

Contact us!

Browse other CSWC blog posts!

Our Sexual Attitudes and How Society Influences Them

Sexuality is a deeply personal and individual aspect of our lives, but it is profoundly shaped by the society we live in. We’ve compiled a list of the different parts...

Exploring Kink (Mindfully!)

Kinks and fetishes are an integral part of human sexuality. They encompass a wide array of desires and interests that make us unique. However, it's crucial to navigate...

Identifying (and Unlocking) Your Sexual Interests

Sexual desire and sexual interest are natural and fundamental aspects of human nature. However, understanding and identifying your own sexual desires can be a deeply...

I Am an Ally, and It’s Not About Me

It’s not about me.  This can sometimes be a difficult awareness to digest at times. In my existence, I always matter. With my level of privilege, my needs, thoughts,...

The Art of Embodying Sexuality

Quick – think of someone who you think embodies sexuality. What are some characteristics they might have that lead you to believe they do? Sexuality is not merely an...

STIs and Your Right to Pleasure

Life can be stressful when juggling commitments to loved ones, jobs, school, and community. There are many experiences or circumstances that can make enjoying sexual...

Sex Talk: A Celebration of Black Women in Sex Therapy

Whatever our relationship structure, most of us want our relationships to be healthy and rewarding. Research shows that couples who hold their relationships up against...

“Am I Normal?” & Other Common Worries About Sex

  A question I often get asked when meeting a new client is: “I have ____ issue affecting my sex life. Am I normal?”.  The answer? Yes! Concerns and issues related to...

Honesty, Vulnerability and Trust…Oh my!

It can be difficult to fully open up to someone. It can be hard to be your authentic self and let someone fully in for fear of not being accepted. When you let someone...

We Should All Be Embodied

I hope you have had the pleasure of listening to WUNC’s Embodied, a weekly radio show hosted by Anita Rao that is “an exploration of our brains and our bodies that...