Being the high desire partner can seem like a simple problem from the outside, but people living this experience will tell you it's not that easy. You want to connect, share passion, and get your needs met, but you need to be careful to do it in ways that don't add pressure to what can often be a tense situation.
Let Gina and Julie help you understand how to handle high desire in mismatched desire relationships, in loving consensual ways.
On the inner experience of the high desire partner -
“High desire partners often experience an intense inner struggle, where on one hand they know they are entitled to have desire, and they know there's nothing wrong with asking for what I want, but at the same time I'm tired of always being the one to gets things started... so I either feel like I am pressuring someone all the time, or I take it personally.”
On our culture and sex -
“Sometimes we have a tendency to talk about sex like it's not important or it's base. We tell people to focus on love more. There's something wrong with you if you have a lot of desire. You're not enlightened if you have a lot of desire. So there can be shame around this.”
On knowing when high desire is a problem -
“There are a small number people on one extreme end of the spectrum where their desire, boundaries about sex or impulse control about sex are interruptive in their life, they can't make it work, they betray relationships, they don't respect the boundaries of others because they can't manage their sexual impulsivity BUT that is one small end of the spectrum.”
"Is it causing you emotional strife or relationship problems?"
"Is it negatively impacting your life?"
On sex and love -
“For some people, sex and love go together and that's really important. But for some people, it doesn't and that's okay. ”
On exploring desire -
"If I believe the only way for me to get my sexual needs met is to have sex with a partner that can put a lot of pressure on a relationship... When we focus in on only one pathway to pleasure and stop playing around."
"It's okay to like other stuff."
"One of the most important ingredients for a great sex life is curiosity and a willingness to explore."
Action Steps from the Podcast
Explore different ways of being in your body and connecting sexually with yourself and/or with your partner.
Esther Perel Reflection Activity
Take a piece of paper (or use your computer) and draw a line down the middle
(creating two columns).
Write "Love" at the top of the left column and write down your first
responses to the following questions.
"When I think of love, I think of..."
"When I love, I feel..."
"When I am loved I feel..."
"In love, I look for..."
"I wish I experienced love as..."
On the top of the right column write "Sex" and write your immediate
associations to the following prompts.
"When I think of sex, I think of..."
"When I desire, I feel..."
"When I am desired I feel..."
"In sex, I look for..."
"I wish I experienced sex as..."
Now take a few minutes to look at your responses. Notice any similarities?
Notice any differences? How do you feel after looking at your lists? Do you wish
you had different responses?
Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a sexuality counselor and communication consultant specializing in healthy boundaries, passionate relationships, jealousy, and infidelity. She supports non-traditional couples all over the world as a retreat leader and certified relationship coach.
Connect with Gina
Julie Jeske, LPC is a sex and relationship counselor. She has a private practice where she helps clients increase intimacy, ignite passion and deepen their connection to themselves and others. Julie especially loves to help women discover who they are sexually. Through counseling, online classes, or in-person retreats; her clients learn how to talk about their sexual and relationship desires, and explore ways to make them a reality.
Connect with Julie