Men and women alike may feel embarrassed if the male has a lower libido than the female partner. Men may feel emasculated, and women may not feel beautiful or sexy.
It’s important for women to know that there are many reasons a man’s libido may wane. According to a study summarized in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, up to 12% of adult males experience low libido because of androgen deficiency, with age and the added medical conditions that come with it being risk factors.
As Dr. Edward Laumann states in his research, women’s drive is affected substantially by environmental factors (such as relationship, mood, age, self-esteem, body image, work issues, family issues, even weather). Similarly, men’s sex drive can be affected by stress (particularly at work), depression, substance abuse, hormone imbalance, medical issues, and aging, among other factors.
If you find that you are initiating sex a lot with your male partner or are feeling like his libido has dropped, here are some tips to deal with the situation:
- Don’t take it personally. As can be the case with women, a man’s libido may be tied to self-esteem, body image, performance at work, finances, and ability to provide for the family. Your man may be feeling down about himself, he may be stressed at the office, or he may be feeling inadequate for some reason. Simple, loving compliments can boost his confidence and self-esteem; tell him, perhaps, how amazing he is, how much you love him, how much you want him, etc.
- If you initiate and are successful, give plenty of positive feedback and praise. This may make him more likely to initiate or be interested again.
- If you initiate and he turns you down, try to let it go. Accept his decision and maybe give him a kiss goodnight. Don’t argue or get upset or passive aggressive with him. It’s fine to ask if everything’s OK or if he wants to talk, but don’t harp on it. It’s not the right time to have a serious conversation about it.
- Try something different. If your relationship is in a rut or things are getting a bit stale or boring, try something new that might excite him. You might ask him if anything in particular would appeal to him.
- Touch him affectionately without expecting or asking for sex. Just enjoy the experience and don’t get too caught up in who initiated it. Being goal oriented may lead to him feeling pressured, and you feeling rejected, if sex does not follow. Focus on enjoying the physical intimacy and increasing your pleasure and connection in the moment.
- Talk to him and tell him how you feel. Try to engage him in a conversation when you’re alone but not in the moment. He may have no idea that you feel rejected; he may simply be wrapped up in whatever’s going on with him. Talking might tune him in to your feelings and needs.
- Ask him how he feels and what might be affecting his interest level. Perhaps he’ll share that he has been stressed by an assignment at work. Perhaps he’s experiencing depression. Showing concern will help you both by providing him with empathy and support while reducing your self-conscious thoughts.
- Understand that no two people have the same level of desire. Most couples have a difference in desire levels. Talk to him about your desire patterns and find a way to meet in the middle with regard to sexual intimacy. With communication and understanding, partners can learn what sexual intimacy means to the other person.
If the preceding tips don’t seem to help, consider seeking the help of a sex therapist to help address the root of the issue.
- Araujo, A.B, O’Donnell, A.B, Brambilla, D.J., Simpson, W.B, Longcope, C., Matsumoto, A.M., and McKinlay, J.B. (2004). Prevalence and Incidence of Androgen Deficiency in Middle-Aged and Older Men: Estimates from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Vol 89(12), 5920-5926.
- Laumann, Edward. (1994). The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
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