Confusing touch and sex. A dynamic unfolds between a couple where one partner wants sex more often than the other, such that one partner is always initiating and the other is always rejecting.
The lower-libido partner will often start feeling uncomfortable. They may feel guilty rejecting their partner’s sexual advances so often or frustrated that their partner keeps trying to initiate sex when they’re not feeling it. It may begin to feel like every touch is charged as if their partner will try to make every embrace or hand on the back turn into a sexual touch.
All these negative feelings start popping up every time they even vaguely touch each other. Then after a while, the lower-libido person may begin avoiding being touched by their partner totally to avoid this tough dynamic.
The more highly sex partner may often notice that their partner has been avoiding their touch. This may be quite hurtful if their love language is physical touch, or it may feel like their partner is no longer interested in them sexually.
Prioritizing touch, without strings attached. If couples consciously strive to detach touch from sex, then, even when their libidos are misaligned, their couple connection doesn’t waver. After all, they still have other non-sexual ways of showing affection and cultivating intimacy.
It is perfectly fine to tickle each other, rub your partner’s back or simply sit close side-by-side. Those fun, intimate behaviors need not lead to sex. Your partner needs to grasp that every time you touch them, it is not always an invitation to jump your bones.
It can help to have a conversation as a couple about how you can remove the pressure from touch, such that you can enjoy kissing, cuddling, and other forms of touch without any expectation that sex must come from it. It may even help establish “first-base dates,” i.e., romantic time you spend together where you agree that sex is off the table.
Clearly, it is also crucial to find ways to make sure the partner with the higher libido still feels like their sexual needs are being addressed in the relationship. Surprisingly, cultivating more non-sexual touch can make both parties feel loved and satisfied. More often than not, when there’s an influx of warmth and intimacy in a relationship, sex can feel like a more desirable next step. You may even find that sexual desire in the relationship builds back up over time naturally.