Is His Low Sex Drive A Dealbreaker?

Is His Low Sex Drive A Dealbreaker?

My boyfriend and I have been dating for 3 years now. He is sweet, patient, loving, and all the things you can ask for in a BF/Husband. One issue is that my sex drive is higher than his. I’d say I’m at an 8-9 and he would be at a 4. On an average, we probably have sex 5-9 times a month. We’ve fought about it plenty of times starting during our first year together. At this point, I never ask for it or try to start it because I know it may not go anywhere and I don’t want to argue or be reminded of how sexually neglected I feel. It’s THAT BAD. Now I feel that we have just become best friends who live together and once in awhile sleep together. When we do have sex, sometimes I feel my mind thinking elsewhere. I believe I have programmed my brain to not want to have sex just so that I don’t feel lonely and rejected when he says he’s not in the mood. I think I lost that spark and special connection with my boyfriend who I love VERY, VERY much. Sometimes I ask myself if I’m happy almost every day because of it. What do I do? Is sex something worth breaking up over??? —Sexually Deprived Female

While I’ve tackled another version of this question before, I think it’s a subject worth revisiting since there are three times more people reading this blog now than a few years ago…

And although I’ll weigh in with my normal blend of facts, reason and personal anecdotes, I’d really like to hear from you in the comments below.

Is sex something worth breaking up over?

You’re not wrong or shallow to ask the question. After all, if you’re only going to have sex with one person for the rest of your life, you’d better be content.

Which is why I would never advocate that anyone marry a man where there’s ZERO attraction “just because he’s nice”. A guy’s gotta be able to turn you on and be a good, game and giving lover — otherwise, you will be perpetually dissatisfied.

The question YOU’RE posing, SDF, is a slight twist on that.

It’s a lot easier to find a guy with a high libido than it is to find a guy who is marriage material.

See, you have the perfect boyfriend. He’s sweet, patient, loving and he’s continually demonstrated his worth over the course of three years.

His only flaw is that he’s got an average sex drive while you have a high sex drive.

It seems to me that the only person who can really answer the question as to whether you should break up with this man is YOU.

People impose arbitrary dealbreakers all the time. We can quibble about which ones are reasonable and which ones aren’t, but ultimately, it’s subjective. And my subjective judgment probably doesn’t mean all that much to you if you feel sexually deprived if you’re not having sex 5 times a week.

Listen, you’re not alone. In the past month, I’ve had two clients tell me, point-blank, that nightly sex was important to them and has been a dealbreaker for them before. That’s their right. It’s also my right to point out that it’s a lot easier to find a guy with a high libido than it is to find a guy who is marriage material. If you have to choose one to marry, I’d choose the guy who is marriage material. But that’s just me.

Alas, the invariable blowback from the gallery is “Why should I have to choose? Why can’t I get BOTH? Why do I have to compromise on something so important to me?”

And that’s where sex is really no different than any other dealbreaker: height, weight, age, education, income, sense of humor, geography, kids, blahblahbah. People who are looking to get married must realize that you don’t get EVERY SINGLE quality you’re looking for in a partner, but if you get most of them, you’re a very lucky person. My wife and I have similar libidos — closer to your boyfriend, for what it’s worth — so this is one thing that we didn’t have to compromise on. But we did compromise on religion, politics, geography, education, and a host of other things. This is what adults do — assess realistic expectations and either adjust or stay true to your list of demands.

This is what adults do — assess realistic expectations and either adjust or stay true to your list of demands.

If you are insistent upon your partner having any quality that may be somewhat extreme — a man with a PhD (3%), a man who is a millionaire (4%), a man who runs marathons (.1%), etc — you are CHOOSING to limit your dating pool. There’s no judgment on you; but it will, by definition, take you a lot longer to find love.

One final point that you seem to have missed is this: you feeling lonely and rejected when he doesn’t want to have sex is YOUR decision. He’s still your boyfriend. He’s still attracted to you. He still sleeps with you. He just has a different biological makeup. It’s like being a chef who gets angry that his patrons don’t want to eat at 1pm after he just fed them a big lunch at 12pm. You can’t take this personally.

So once that’s off your head — and you stop judging him and judging yourself because you’re different, ask yourself: can I find happiness with this man or is sex important enough that I will continue searching for the man who a) can give it to me every night and b) also has all of the wonderful qualities of your current boyfriend.

You’re not wrong whichever way you choose, but it’s clear that the path of accepting your normal boyfriend is a surer route to a healthy relationship than blowing things up for a random guy with an equally high sex drive and keeping your fingers crossed that you’ll also love him VERY, VERY much.

Unless YOU don’t think so, in which case, I wish you the best of luck.

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  1. 21

    Wowza Sara – Every woman wants GREAT GREAT sex – especially tantra and all of that. I think there is a bell curve for what is okay to great – but there is certainly bad where “he comes first” and that is it. Blucko.  

    Raise your standards, girls!! I mean bottom line is that he has an interest and also wants to have great sex and please his partner.

    I am wondering if he is really tired from work – like really stressed or working too many hours? Or if he is working out a whole lot. Those things can really affect a relationship.  

  2. 22

    I really like the photo illustrating this blog post.   Good photography and good looking models who are not model-perfect.

  3. 23

    @Sara 20, I’m a woman, and that was my first thought — she should go to   I totally agree with Saint Stephen and didn’t feel the least bit insulted.   If the writer has 80% or more of what she’s looking for in a husband, she ought to thank her lucky stars.   There is no such thing as 100% compatibility in every area.   And to those suggesting the man should “do something” about his lesser sex drive, that’s like saying he should “do something” about his nationality or height.   Once you rule out medical problems, you have to face the fact that some people are going to want a lot of sex and some simply don’t.   If you can’t deal with that, leave.   Only she can decide.  

  4. 24

    I would highly recommend reading “Mars and Venus in the bedroom” by John Gray. It can provide some new insights to you. Oh, and BTW, your boyfriend can up the ante a bit. Sometimes, you guys can just have some foreplay and then he can just help you have an orgasm and that would be fine. Since you already have a higher sex drive, you would probably need less foreplay.  

  5. 25
    Katarina Phang

    That was the story of my marriage as well.   Like everyone has said, sex is one of the pillars of healthy relationship (the others are chemistry, communication and compatibility).   It’s HUGE.   If one pillar is wobbly, it can’t sustain the relationship for long.

    When sex works it’s 10% of relationship -so yes, it’s not everything.   But when it doesn’t, it becomes 90%.   Because it’s one of the pillars.  

    And no, please…. sex in relationship isn’t replaceable by vibrators.   You don’t emotionally bond with your vibrator but you need to bond with your partner through sex.   If not relationship rots over time.   Slowly but surely.

    Only marry those whom you are sexually compatible with.   Those who belittle your sex drive and take it personally that you want more than they do are not worth your salt in the long run.   It’s a major red flag. They’re not wrong for not wanting as much sex as you, they are just wrong for you.   Everyone’s needs are different.

    Granted, to have all the pillars sound and strong is mighty difficult.   It’s rare to find someone you can feel right in all those areas at the same time.   But if you want longevity in your relationship, never settles.   It’ better to be alone now than being stuck in a relationship that doesn’t fulfill you.   It’s damned if you stay, damned if you leave.   The worst feeling ever.

    I make a promise to myself, no matter how much I like/love a guy, if our sex life isn’t up to my minimum standard, he’s out.   I’d rather date many guys and experience different guys sexually than being in a monogamous relationship that doesn’t fulfill me sexually.   It just won’t work.

  6. 26

    I think any person, male or female, finds the lack of sex or disinterest in sex a deal breaker in the relationship long term. The lack of closeness, bonding and satisfaction with your partner will drive you  apart if you can’t find some sort of middle ground where both partners needs are being met.

    We don’t know if there is any sort of medical issue with her boyfriend but if she has been fighting with him about this for several years there is a problem.
    It depends how much she acutally loves him. Sex is always the cherry on top of the cake and there is so much more to loving your partner than just sex.
    What would  she do  if something happened to her boyfriend and sex was not possible anymore? An accident or medical issue? Would she dump the guy or do what lots of other people do who really love their partner. stay with them and do what it takes to make them happy no matter what?
    After all, it’s not their fault.
    A friend’s wife has Parkinsons disease and sex is no longer possible. He does go out with occasionally other women  very discreetly  but still loves his wife and would never do anything to hurt her and would never leave her. Is what he is doing wrong? He is just taking an occasional break from having to watch his wife die a little more every day.
    Sometimes life sucks!

    So, what’s important in the long run?

  7. 27

    Funny this is the second time I have checked out this blog that relates directly to my current situation. I am a woman in my late 30s that would love sex twice a week….but because of my BFs low sex drive I’ve compromised to once a week and he can’t even handle that on a consistent basis…..we’ve had so many discussions its crazy. It’s only been two years and it really pains me to break up over this but I’ve come to the realization this is a larger issue w him re intimacy problems. He is very affectionate and leaves I love you notes for me to try to make up for it but I also want to feel wanted and desired. Been told I look great for my age so it isn’t like I am bad to look at. I’ve stayed knowing that you do need to compromise but the sacrifice to your self esteem still ends up eroding the relationship. It will only get worse.

    1. 27.1
      Sad lover

      ive been reading all of these comments and feeling that it could be me writing that letter. I’ve been with my guy for 2 years. The sex was hot and heavy and erotic to begin with. There is nothing vanilla about him. We moved in together 8 months ago and suddenly his sex drive dived. We have sex once a week. Only on a Saturday morning and always from behind. He doesn’t look at me. We’ve been to a counsellor and I continue to raise this with him explaining that it’s hurting me and the relationship. I love him. I know he loves me. He masturbates which makes me think he’s just not attracted to me. To get any attention I have to jump through circus hoops. Dress up etc. my self esteem has nose dived. I spend a lot of time googling in the hope of finding answers. And here I am.

      1. 27.1.1

        dear sad lover ,
        mostly am the same case of you , we have been married 2 years ago , he was sexually better in the beginning and now he is very tired and some times he escape from me, by saying not in mood ,staff like that ,and our time is saturday night , once a week as you , to be honest , i start now to control him very well and overcome him in our daily life , that help alot in my problem with him, i start to point ..why he is not sexually good, but i dont know what to do ?

      2. 27.1.2

        Leave him.   Before you feel even worse about yourself.   I know. I’ve been there.   See my comment above.

      3. 27.1.3

        If he is only having sex with you once a week because he has a low sex drive it’s understandable but if he is mastrubating. That’s just BULLSHIT!!! If his watching porn that’s like cheating.. Run…

    2. 27.2

      Your post has given me some comfort. My issue is it’s my gf with the non-existent sex drive. Going on 3 years now and she’s like your bf, she’s affectionate and warm and we get along fine outside of an intimacy life. Like you, I’ve stayed around for compromise but after we have a discussion nothing ever changes and I’ve thought now it’s more of an issue that’s deeper than sex. We went to a councilor but she only went one time and won’t go back. But my self esteem is gone and I’m tired of the emotional roller coaster and I’m convinced it’s only going to get worse from my standpoint.

    3. 27.3

      Leave him.   I was dead inside for 8 years, thinking the way you are.   See my comment above.

  8. 28

    SDF: if  he boned  you  an extra 2x a week just because you wanted some,  even though he didn’t really want  some, would you be satisfied?

    1. 28.1

      Thank you. Your comment made it very simple for me. Appreciate that you leave no judgement. Sad realization, but no, I won’t be happy if he was just doing it for me. The clarity is gratifying, and so very heartbreaking. I love him so much…

  9. 29

    I wouldn’t tell a man who wasn’t getting enough sex to just suck it up and I wouldn’t tell it to a woman.   Like it or not, a sex life is a big part of a relationship and it has to work for both people for the relationship to be happy.
    I also wouldn’t tell someone who wants sex more than most people that they have an abnormally high drive.     Vice-versa for “low drive” people.   If that is their biochemistry, that is normal for them.     Their challenge is to find a partner who matches up with them.
    Several people have posted accounts of lower sex drive BFs.   I take it these are not men in their 20s or 30s?     Why do there seem to be so many?     I know women peak near their 40s.     As a group they also tend to take better care of their health than men at that age.
    I’m tempted to think hard work schedules and stress play a part, but women work now too.   I’ve heard married women with jobs and kids complain that those two endeavors kill their mood.     Maybe some women with lighter jobs or jobs that give them energy are pairing up with guys whose careers sap theirs?       Then there is boredom with a particular partner.
    Outside of those things there are the ordinary factors of poor nutrition, lack of exercise,   higher weights, lack of adequate sleep, etc.
    Did I miss anything in terms of what might account for a low libido?

    1. 29.1
      Nodzh nor Bittner nor Pipe

      Two things, for what it’s worth:

      a) Lack of prior experience. Not everyone is born with a tremendous ability to please a partner sexually (whether or not said pleaser is personally comfortable with sex) nor was sexual intimacy a part of their growing up or adolescence. I can speak from personal experience that many people in my position were never even offered the chance for sexual expression by the opposite sex in their youth, and were it to occur would find it extremely awkward, regardless of the enthusiasm I or they might have.

      b) Neuroleptic/psychotropic medication; in my case it was both antidepressants and atypical antipsychotics from my teenage years onwards. I realize that not everyone reading this will ever require involved psychiatric treatment for any length of time, but I submit that most modern medications intended for the assited treatment of bipolar (manic/depression) disorder, anxiety and schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorders pull one’s libido down through the basement, even if someone like me ends up meeting a compatible partner. I do masturbate infrequently but it is a rarity compared to what I perceive the norm for orgasmic expression to be for most sexually active adults.

      That said, I don’t mean to put myself forward as being ‘typical’ sexually; I suspect I’m not even close. But I thought it was worth putting my two cents in.

      1. 29.1.1

        @Nodzh nor Bittner nor Pipe thanks for your two cents, epecially your section b) responce. As a partner of someone on medication that affects their libido I’m glad someone mentioned their own experience with this. I love my partner but this has caused some fights, though I know it is not my partners fault as the medication is a must to keep SO healthy and well. This is still an issue for us, is there anything you have found that helps you with this situation?I understand not to pressure your partner but we are in our mid twenties and it’s hard to not to start feeling unwanted when asking for sex with SO becomes more like nagging.   I don’t know if this forums active anymore….

  10. 30

    @Goldie #16

    Oh i agree, if he doesn’t want to meet her halfway and try the other things as i discussed, then no matter what his feelings towards her, hes being callous towards her predicament and she would then be in her right to leave.

    But if he did meet her part way, but it wasn’t intercourse, would that be acceptable? I do recall not too long ago seeing another post with women seething about the prospects of some guy leaving his LTR because the girl decided to find religion and put a stop to sex until marriage. I recall many protestations to the mere possibility that the guy ‘might’ leave her due to lack of sex.

    It’s just always funny to see the many reactions to the plethora of life’s problems when faced from a different point of view.

  11. 31

    Does she work out? If she’s heavier than she was when they started the relationship, that can cause a lack of desire for her BF.

  12. 32
    Katarina Phang

    My experience with a low libido guy, it’s not just about quantity but also quality of the sex sucked.   Low libido guys are usually lazy in bed and not a pleaser.   They just wanted to go through with the motion and be over with (not unlike women who have sex out of obligation), and really there is not much a woman can do about this.   I’m eager to please the man I love, but men don’t always have the same mentality.

    Especially when they know they are being “demanded” to do so.   Guys tend to go the opposite direction what women want them to do.   It’s about sense of being in control with them.

    This is why I don’t recommend waiting for sex.   For what, exactly?   The sooner you know you two are a match or not in bed, the better.

    Seriously, you can’t go into a relationship expecting a guy to change because he won’t.   Just find one who matches you in the most significant ways.   And don’t give away your heart too early and easily, it’s hard to get out when you’re too deep in the game already.  

    1. 32.1

      I have a guy with a low sex drive.   I’m 54 and he’s 58.   Together 3 plus years.   I’m sick of it.   I have tried everything and things will get better briefly but then it goes back to the same boring thing.   He’s also lazy in bed.    He’s been great in bed also but very, very rarely.   I’m a bit afraid to leave at my age but I’m planning on it sooner than later.

  13. 33

    @Mike, I agree.
    I venture to guess that if this letter was written and the roles were reversed, many of my fellow women would be up in arms about the man’s superficiality and shallowness, and likely be calling him a callous sex fiend.   (And we know that porn would be out of the question b/c too many feel that it is “cheating” and unnecessary).      
    Too many people seem to think that everything that a woman wants is always right, but when a man wants the same things, it is wrong.   
    Just my own observation b/c I’m all about equality and dislike hypocrisy about things like this.
    I do know women who have had this problem but in the end, the relationships that were very strong in other ways endured, and the ones that had other problems fizzled.   This guy sounds like a keeper but it does sound like he has a hard time talking to her/hearing her on this issue.   I’m not even sure he has to try to change so much as CHANGE the way he responds, which I think will make her feel less that this is some kind of rejection of her as a woman, which I don’t think it is.     
    Sometimes all people need to know is that you HEAR them.     

  14. 34

    Although I sympathize with the OP, I wonder how reasonable her expectations are. If you are doing it 9 times a month, you’re basically already having sex every third to fourth day, which sounds pretty reasonable to me – it’s not like you are having it once a month.  

    I also think that many women are unfair to normal men with lower sex drives (and I’m not referring to women who are with incompatible low libido men as some of the posts suggest). It’s not really fair to tell the guy that he needs to compromise and try to have more sexy when the woman does little to compromise (and sorry, but not broaching the issue and becoming distant is not compromise). It’s understanding where the guy is coming from and trying to find a happy compromise – same as we’d want the guy to do. And let’s not forget good old biology – a woman does not need to be physically aroused to have sex but a man does. It’s really not as simple as saying “up” so I don’t feel like the comparison between men and women is equal here.  

    Actually, most of the women that I know could stand to have more sex, I def can. But I realize that this might not be a reasonable expectation, and I would gladly give up a great guy who makes me feel valued that I have sex with only every third or fourth day for the possibility of finding one who wants it every day AND is a great guy.   

  15. 35

    If sex drives or styles are mismatched to the point where someone is unhappy in the relationship, then yes, the issue is big enough to consider leaving.

    The OP should ask herself this question: If our sex life stayed exactly like it is now for the rest of our lives, can I live with it, and would I be happy and fulfilled?

    If she can’t make peace with it, she has a serious problem and, imo, should consider leaving.

    MIGHT it change? Sure it might for the better or WORSE. His drive may fall lower, what then? If he is doing nothing now (only 3 years in and not married yet) to improve this part of their relationship, imagine what the future may hold.

    Just sayin’

  16. 36

    Les@34: Oh, you are going to get some grief from women because you said that a woman does not have to be physically aroused to have sex. She does if she doesn’t want it to be PAINFUL. So yes please–let’s NOT forget good old biology. A woman DOES have to be aroused for sex to happen and not feel like sandpaper on the privates.

  17. 37

    Sigh. One other thought. Les’ comment is why women hate porn. It teaches men really wrong things about the way the female body functions.

  18. 38
    Nadia Shore

    Wow. Since when is 6-9 x a month considered a low libido? It sounds pretty normal to me. In fact, he sounds pretty wonderful and if she’s done with him, I’d sure like to meet him.  

  19. 39
    That East Asian Man

    Dear SDF.   Your boyfriend has given you two gifts.   Although it may not seem so now, each of these gifts is truly wonderful.   You are lucky to have received them.   Perhaps with the perspective of time, you will understand.
    The first gift is the knowledge that you enjoy having lots of sex with a man that you have feelings for.   If your boyfriend had shared this quality, you might have thought that your feelings for him allowed you to enjoy his strong sexual appetite.   But because your boyfriend does not share this quality, you know now that you have a strong sexual appetite of your own.   Self-knowledge is important and will help you in the future, whether you are with this boyfriend or another.
    The second gift is the opportunity to resolve a conflict with your boyfriend.   For the issue here isn’t really about sex at all — it’s about the fact that you and you boyfriend do not agree on something that is important to you.   Next time, the issue could be how to spend your holiday bonus money, or the best way to raise a child.   So, at this time, and in this place, you get a chance to practice resolving a conflict with a man that you have feelings for, and who has feelings for you in return.     By practicing these skills now, you will enable yourself to have the kind of relationship that you deserve, where you and your man can resolve conflicts in a way that benefits both of you.  
    I wish you all of the best in your path towards this beautiful future.

    1. 39.1

      What a wonderful persective. Thank you.

  20. 40
    Katarina Phang

    Ugh…#39, if she’s not fulfilled sexually, the issue is really sex.   Sex is a real thing in itself.   It’s not just about physical gratification but also emotional connection.   

    Again, there is no right or wrong…if someone is not happy with 6-9 times a month (and remember, quantity is one thing, quality is another: 3 min/session is hardly good sex, I would in fact consider it sexless no matter if you have that twice a week -yeah 6 mins/week, pretty generous right? 🙂 ), she’s not happy and she should find someone who can give her what she wants/needs.  

    Unfortunately, as millions of couples have attested, there is no way around it.   Sexual incompatibility is very destructive to relationship.   Avoid it at all costs.   You can’t reason through it, eventually your emotions will take charge.  

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