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Wednesday 08 April 2009

When sex drives don't match

Posted in: Family Matters
By - 28th March 2009

Jacquie Grant affectionately known as the "tranny granny", Jacquie's had a colourful life which has seen her go from being harassed by police and arrested on the streets of King's Cross in Sydney in the late 1950s, to a happier life in New Zealand, where she has fostered more than 60 children, and now has numerous grandchildren. Jacquie lives in Hokitika.

Bill Logan is a counsellor, celebrant, gay activist and revolutionist in his fifties, Bill's been on the Gay Helpline in Wellington since 1982, was a co-founder of the NZ AIDS Foundation, and played a significant role in the struggle for homosexual law reform.

Tom Hamilton is Rainbow Youth's Executive Director, and also has several years experience working within LGBT communities in Australia and the USA. Tom also has extensive knowledge about community law, support work and counselling.

Previous advisors include secondary school teacher Carol Bartlett, gay activist Jim Peron,"Out & Proud" ambassador AJ Marsh, ex Youth Coordinator for Rainbow Youth Rob Marshall and editor Jay Bennie.

If you have a question you'd like to put to our panel, please complete our

Sex can be an important part of any relationship. But if one partner is in overdrive while the other is stalling, what's a guy to do?

A reader writes:

I recently began a relationship with an amazing guy who is 10 years my senior. Being my first gay relationship it was completely unexpected, but now I think about him all the time and have never felt so in love before.

There is only one slight problem. My sex drive is through the roof, being a new-to-the-scene 21 year old who wants to explore my sexuality but his libido is far from the same and seems to be getting worse. There is no passion when we have sex and our sexual encounters seem to be very one sided.

He began seeing a counselor regarding the situation last month because he said loves me and doesn't want to f*ck anything up, but this doesn't seem to be helping him at all. He has a history of depression, has been raped, and caught STI's from unfaithful partners in the past. I can understand that these factors would waive his sexual desire, but intimacy in this relationship is important to me.

Can someone please give me some advice on what to do? I would never cheat on him but can't handle the situation as it currently is.


Advice from Bill Logan:

There are a huge number of potential causes for a lack of sexual fit between partners, and the only thing I'm sure about here is that this is not about your relative ages. It is possible, of course, that you are simply not compatible sexually, and eventually you'll have to accept that ... but there's a whole lot of different things to try before you have to look at that possibility.

First, you need to do a lot of talking together about your current difference in libido, and a lot of experimenting, and in particular you need to know as much as possible about what turns your man on as you can find out, and as much as possible about what he does not like so much, or is ambivalent about. It might be that the rape experience, for example, makes anal sex difficult for him, perhaps with the exception of particularly favourable circumstances. Depending on your conversations, it might be best to take anal sex off the menu for a long time.

Second, the professional attention your partner is getting for his history of depression, rape andbad previous relationships will likely be very useful--but it will take far more than a month or two.

Third, perhaps one or both of you are assuming that satisfactory gay sex necessarily and always involves two erections and two ejaculations. If your partner were less concerned with "achievement", perhaps you could both have plenty of fun. This might involve some experimentation with everything from gentle caresses to outrageous kink.

Fourth, perhaps you need to slow down, and spend more time seducing your man, tantalising himand sexing him up.It might be good to have a lot of "foreplay" which perhaps you will experience as bringing you to a higher peak of desire (or frustration) than you are used to, before you start to achieve gratification.

Fifth, it is worth trying Viagra, Cialis and suchlike pharmaceutical assistance.

The specifics are always important in this kind of problem... are you are top and bottom? .... which is which? ... do you (or could you) like playing with dildoes? ... what kinds of anal play do you (or might you) like? ... do either of you like cock rings? ... how does prostate stimulation fit into your sex life?.... how much work have either of you done on sensitising your nipples? ... what sorts of kissing and tongue-work has each of you tried with persistence?

Advice from Tom Hamilton:

Relationships are complicated things and there are many levels to sort out using various forms of communication and behaviour. We all have expectations around what we need in a relationship and we attach these expectations very quickly to other people when we find ourselves with someone we like, this is the point in our life we learn to manage our choices.

There are many reasons that sex drive changes, there are differences in peoples sex drive and we all attach expectations to sex and performance. What we expect in a person isn't always what they are and difficulties arise when we get caught up choosing between an ideal or a real person. The reason we fall 'in love' or have relationships is to learn about all these levels and teach each other new ways to look at the world or be in the world.

I would suggest looking at the attitude to approaching sex, if you look at the sex as it as 'not enough' it may end up being 'not enough'. The people we choose to be with cannot be everything to us. As intimacy increases, our awareness of differences increase. If we cannot gel with the increasing intimacy and differences our feelings plateau and we find ourselves less and less interested in the relationship. On other occasions we can compromise and decide that although one aspect of the relationship is not what we expected we can find ways to maintain interest, often this is through clear communication and a willingness to be honest.

Simplifying a relationship and recognising the types of attraction you feel for a partner may highlight the relationship is stronger than expected. Or, perhaps the time together has highlighted too many differences and it will be worthwhile to change the dynamic and give space for any changes. Many relationships can develop after a period of distancing or exploration outside the constraints of expectation initially set.

As always one choice leads to another, but perhaps looking at the situation from the perspective of a relationship - not sex drive - may help to lessen the confusion, offering a chance to focus on what each persons needs are, where to compromise, how to adapt, communicate and have an intimate and fulfilling relationship

And here's some good advice from a Forum member. 'Antares' writes:

In seeking therapy, he is doing the right thing, and he is taking responsibility for his own mental wellbeing. He is also demonstrating his love for you by initiating therapy. But please don't fall into the trap of thinking that counseling is a "quick fix". We're talking about someone who has been raped, and with a history of depression. These are hardcore issues which will take some time to unpick and understand. He needs time to get his head around his issues.

If he's on psychiatric meds of any kind then chances are these will be affecting his libido. I was on Aropax for a while nine years ago and it killed my interest in sex. It also made me feel lethargic and I gained a lot of weight. These are all issues that may affect the sex drive - he may feel unattractive.

In short, just be there for him. No-one ever died of an erection, so if you're horny and you really want sex then watch some porn and jack off! It's not the end of the world. And if you stand by him, talk to him regularly about how he's feeling (and how you're feeling) without blame or negativity, you will more than likely find yourselves becoming even closer. He needs to know he can trust you. Be vulnerable and open up! - 28th March 2009