What do you do if your partner wants to have sex more – or a whole lot less – than you do?
Such is the quandary faced by couples stuck in a libido gap, where frequent badgering meets constant rejection. And judging by the reaction to a recent Reddit post, it's an issue to which many can relate.
As The Telegraph reports, a stunned, unnamed woman reached out to the online community website Reddit, after her husband produced a spreadsheet of all her excuses for refusing sex for a month. Among the excuses he recorded were: "I'm exhausted," "I feel gross," and "I'm watching my show, I don't want to miss anything."
The spreadsheet, which showed she had said "yes" to sex three times during the month, was sent to her via e-mail as she was leaving for a work trip.
"He's never done this, we always communicate in person or by text," she wrote, according to The Telegraph. "I open it up, and it's a sarcastic diatribe basically saying he won't miss me for the 10 days I'm gone."
Her Reddit post has since been locked, restricting access to it. But it has attracted no shortage of comments and media attention.
"If I was turned down 89% of the time by my wife in the past while, it would shatter my confidence in myself and my relationship," one Reddit commenter wrote.
Another weighed in, advising the woman against placating her husband's sexual desires: "It might help in the short term but he will eventually recognize it as 'obligatory sex'. If he cares about you then obligatory sex will be the last thing he wants."
Mismatched libidos are a source of friction for many couples, often becoming apparent only after the early stages of a relationship when sex tends to be frequent, says Margaret Hicks, a couples counsellor and sex therapist in Toronto. For the spurned party, it can be frustrating and disappointing to no longer have one's needs met, especially if he or she sees sex as a way of connecting or expressing love, she says.
On the other had, some individuals simply have lower levels of desire. And a myriad of factors, such as work and childcare, can also dampen the mood, she adds, noting that individuals who shirk sex may not even realize how frequently they turn down their partners.
The top reasons people don't want to have sex are because they're too tired, because of relationship issues, and because the sex isn't good, Hicks says.
To bridge the gap, she emphasizes the need for couples to talk to each other about their sex life and the meanings they attach to sex, and to recognize that it's normal to have differences in sexual appetite, which may fluctuate over time.
Once partners start talking, they may find they want the same thing. "What they're really looking for is the reciprocal experience of desire. They want to be desired by their partner," she says.