A recent discussion on Slate got me thinking again about sexual incompatibility. I have a whole list of suggestions to help lower sex drive, but that was never an entirely serious post. I also can’t take any of the standard advice about raising sex drive seriously either. This debate boils down to two choices for the higher sex drive partner:
A. Find a way to make your partner desire more sex
B. Find a way to make yourself desire less sex
Low sex drive is not necessarily a problem and it should not be classified as a medical issue if the person with low libido is happy with the amount of sex she’s* having. There is no “normal” in such a personal activity, and efforts to define and reinforce a norm do more harm than good. I don’t know of any direct negative consequences of having a low sex drive. The only indirect consequence is that it may result in pestering from a partner with higher sex drive.
On the other hand, high sex drive comes with many potential problems, not limited to the following:
1. Increased potential to cheat on one’s partner, associated with 2, 3, 4
2. Increased risk of STD
3. Increased risk of unwanted pregnancy
4. Increased likelihood of costly social consequences like divorce
5. Distracting, obsessive thoughts about sex
6. Negative moods (anger, frustration, sadness) associated with not getting enough sex
Clearly high sex drive is associated with greater health risks and other problems. Why isn’t high libido considered a medical issue? Why do all the common solutions to this problem only address choice A? Why aren’t there more advocates of research into libido-reducing drugs and therapies?
Drugs or therapies to reduce sex drive would be useful in many situations:
1. Deployed soldiers who are away from spouses for months or years at a time
2. Men with pregnant wives or new babies
3. Single people who do not have time to pursue a sexual relationship
4. Teenagers who are not mentally mature enough to be having sex
5. People of holy orders who have vowed to remain celibate
6. Anyone who believes his* sex drive is clouding his judgement in any way
I was once a psychology major. That may not hold much weight, but I do have a B.A. in psychology. You can cite me to your pressuring/whining/bullying spouse who probably doesn’t even have that. Tell him or her that sex is a privilege, and no one is entitled to more access to another person’s body than that person is willing to give. End of story. Anyone who disagrees doesn’t deserve to associate with you anyway.
* As always, gendered pronouns used for convenience of notation only