Study Shows Men In Long-Term Relationships Lose Interest In Sex Before Women

Here's how couples can work through it.

A new study from the University in Kentucky has found men in long-term relationships lose interest in sex before women. According to the analysis of 64 studies since the 1950s, published in the Journal of Sex Research, men lose their sexual desire due to feelings of insecurity and worry about losing their freedom within a relationship. 

This is further underscored, the study noted, by men's unrealistic expectations of their sexual appetite and their bodies as they age. Because men have been taught to expect their libido will stay at the same level throughout their life, they become frustrated when it dips. 

Society's attitudes toward sex and the way it's portrayed in the media also pressure men to feel like they always need to not only be ready for sex, but always be the ones to initiate it. Kristen Mark, the study's lead author and director of the Sexual Health Promotion Lab at the University of Kentucky, told The Telegraph, "We expect male desire to always be high and to be simple, like an on and off switch, while we expect women's desire to be a complicated switchboard, but they are both complex." 

Vanessa Marin, sex therapist, agrees. "We have some really inaccurate — and incredibly harmful — sexual stereotypes in our culture. One of the most common ones is that men always want to have sex," she told A Plus. "The truth is that everyone will struggle with their libido at one point or another. Our libidos are incredibly sensitive and can get affected by a variety of different factors in our lives." 

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When that happens, it can feel impossible to rediscover your sex drive, but it's not. Though it might take "a bit of investigative work," according to Marin, men shouldn't feel self-conscious or insecure taking the time and space to explore themselves. "When we perpetuate the myth that men always want sex more, we make it more difficult for men to actually get their libidos back," she explained. 

To that end, Marin encourages long-term couples to recognize that their sex life is "a joint project" for both partners to work on together. "Even the most sexually compatible couples are rarely going to want sex at the exact same time," she advised. "Your sex life has to be about communicating your needs to each other, creating the time and space for intimacy, trying new things together, and making sure to continue prioritizing each other." 

To get this new kind of conversation started, Marin recommends a partner say something like, "I miss feeling so connected with you in the bedroom. What can we do together to create more time and space for intimacy?" Couples can also seek additional help via Marin's online, gender-neutral course, Rediscovering Desire, and/or seek further guidance from a couples counselor.

Cover image via Kaspars Grinvalds on Shutterstock 

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