As a sex therapist, I often work with long-term, committed couples struggling with a variety of sexual difficulties. The most common issue is the problem of mismatched sexual desires.  The partner who wants sex more often usually ends up feeling rejected, wondering whether their partner still finds them sexually attractive or whether their partner is cheating on the sly. If one partner suddenly seems to have lost interest in sex or is pulling away after years of closeness, the real reasons often have very little to do with attraction or infidelity.  Sometimes the problem is blamed on porn, especially if the one pulling back is a male who is caught watching porn instead of being physically intimate with his partner.  However, increased porn viewing is often the symptom rather than the cause of lack of desire.

Usually, emotional and power dynamics lie at the heart of these situations. One partner uses sex as a way to convey strong emotions that they normally are not comfortable expressing directly. Or they may use it as a weapon to reassert a sense of power and control. By withholding sex, a partner may find a source of leverage that they may otherwise  feel they do not possess. Below are the three main causes behind desire discordance in relationships.

1)   Anger- Often, individuals never learned healthy expressions of anger in their families of origin.  Anger may either have been taboo or only seen when built up to the point of rage. As a result, many people experience anger as dangerous, something that leads to negative consequences, and so must be avoided […]